Label-free screening of single biomolecules through resistive pulse sensing technology for precision medicine applications

View publication


Employing integrated nano- and microfluidic circuits for detecting and characterizing biological compounds through resistive pulse sensing technology is a vibrant area of research at the interface of biotechnology and nanotechnology. Resistive pulse sensing platforms can be customized to study virtually any particle of choice which can be threaded through a fluidic channel and enable label-free single-particle interrogation with the primary read-out signal being an electric current fingerprint. The ability to perform label-free molecular screening with single-molecule and even single binding site resolution makes resistive pulse sensing technology a powerful tool for analyzing the smallest units of biological systems and how they interact with each other on a molecular level. This task is at the core of experimental systems biology and in particular 'omics research which in combination with next-generation DNA-sequencing and next-generation drug discovery and design forms the foundation of a novel disruptive medical paradigm commonly referred to as personalized medicine or precision medicine. DNA-sequencing has approached the 1000-Dollar-Genome milestone allowing for decoding a complete human genome with unmatched speed and at low cost. Increased sequencing efficiency yields massive amounts of genomic data. Analyzing this data in combination with medical and biometric health data eventually enables understanding the pathways from individual genes to physiological functions. Access to this information triggers fundamental questions for doctors and patients alike: what are the chances of an outbreak for a specific disease? Can individual risks be managed and if so how? Which drugs are available and how should they be applied? Could a new drug be tailored to an individual's genetic predisposition fast and in an affordable way? In order to provide answers and real-life value to patients, the rapid evolvement of novel computing approaches for analyzing big data in systems genomics has to be accompanied by an equally strong effort to develop next-generation DNA-sequencing and next-generation drug screening and design platforms. In that context lab-on-a-chip devices utilizing nanopore- and nanochannel based resistive pulse-sensing technology for DNA-sequencing and protein screening applications occupy a key role. This paper describes the status quo of resistive pulse sensing technology for these two application areas with a special focus on current technology trends and challenges ahead.