Armonica Technologies, Inc., a biotechnology company developing a novel DNA sequencing system based on single molecule spectroscopy, announced that the company has been awarded a follow-on Phase II SBIR grant from the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute for “Single molecule DNA/RNA transport and Raman scattering readout in a coupled nanochannel/nanopore sequencing system.”  The award of $2M is in support of the company’s single molecule long read sequencing technology that detects all nucleic acid molecules including any chemical or conformational modifications.

The company’s CSO Steve Brueck said, “long-read, single-molecule, label-free sequencing that directly reads native DNA including epigenetic modifications, is considered the ultimate solution for DNA sequencing research and clinical applications.  Armonica’s unique technology provides the exciting capability to read the optical spectra, or ‘spectral fingerprint,’ of individual nucleotides, including any epigenetic modifications.  Measurements are made at the single molecule level using surface-enhanced Raman scattering.”  As part of the award, Armonica is partnering with Professor Jeremy Edwards’ high-throughput DNA sequencing laboratory (University of New Mexico, Chemical and Chemical Biology Department), as well as Professor Eric Potma’s laboratory for Chemical and Biological Imaging (University of California-Irvine, Chemistry Department).

Armonica has demonstrated the ability to linearize and control the motion of single large molecules of single and double strand DNA and has demonstrated single base sensitivity using a proprietary SERS approach that is inexpensively integrated with its nanochannel/nanopore devices.

The company’s CEO, Victor Esch, stated, “There continues to be a significant unmet research and clinical need for a simple, fast and accurate sequencing technology that can detect all pertinent DNA modifications. We are honored that the NIH has awarded us this Phase II, based on our technical accomplishments and the unique potential of our technology- unique in its approach and capabilities.  Our goal is to commercialize our system so that clinicians and researchers can measure all physical properties of genomic molecules.”

Armonica’s proprietary platform addresses the fundamental challenges involved with pore-based sequencing technologies, such as low throughput and limited accuracy, by naturally controlling the speed of nucleic acid transport through nanochannels and reading single base spectra optically, without the need for library preparations or biological manipulation. Armonica’s optical readout technology is label free, has massively parallel capabilities, and directly detects epigenetic nucleotide modifications. This unique approach will enable long-read sequencing and provide life science researchers with a powerful tool that can detect presently inaccessible nuances and provide more accurate identification of genome variations.