See the first public demo of our #nanopore device doing a sample-to-result HIV test! https://t.co/SQvRK4QFuh— Two Pore Guys (@TwoPoreGuys) January 4, 2017
2PG Demo Video - HIV from Two Pore Guys on Vimeo.
Two Pore Guys (2PG from here out) has been developing a platform in which, per their name, analytes are sent through two solid state nanopores in series. Their argument, found in their collection of videos, is that a high degree of molecule translocation speed can be achieved with this scheme. The pores are quite long, around 60 nucleotides in length, so this scheme is not trying to sequence DNA (though their video suggests other technologies could be layered in to perform sequencing). Rather, by attaching capture reagents to DNA (or in the new video, some unspecified DNA-like molecule) the presence of captured molecules or particles can be detected. TPG envisions a handheld device akin to a glucose sensor which would execute tests in a disposable microfluidic chip.
The appeal of t2PG's device as shown is obvious. No sample prep and no precision pipetting. Furthermore, TPG suggests that any existing capture reagent can be easily attached to their strands, potentially enabling any existing immunoassay or other binding assay to be converted to this format. They also promise that in the future the entire assay would be lyophilized on the chip; just add sample and go. Plus a wide range of biological sample types are listed as having been tested in this format, including just about anything a doctor might ask you to provide.
That's a great vision, but clearly this would need to be vetted on a large scale. Even if Theranos hadn't blown up into a huge, ugly mess nobody should just assume that a flashy new assay tech will simply work.
The new 2PG video doesn't discuss multiplexing analytes, but an older one does suggest this is possible by tagging the capture strands with labels. That video suggests that not only could a large number of analytes be multiplexed, but metadata on the test could also be included within the assay.
It is easy to dream of attaching oligonucleotide capture reagents to the sensors to enable facile RNA profiling of samples. The ability to rapidly profile many capture reagents in parallel within the same sample would also enable the optimization and selection of such reagents. The quality of antibodies is often poorly understood, and that is in part because it is troublesome to characterize them. 2PG's approach could possibly compete or complement assays for determining affinity such as Surface Plasmon Resonance (SPR); potentially the change in the signal over the running of the assay could give at least crude information on binding kinetics (i.e. as molecules associated the number of strands bearing analytes would trend in a manner suggesting the kinetics).
What more news will J.P. Morgan bring? Let's hope for lots more!