When Swiss chemist Friedrich Miescher first discovered “nuclein” (later to be called DNA) in 1869 inside the nuclei of human white blood cells, little did he know he had opened a Pandora’s box of opportunity. Although biologist James Watson and physicist Francis Crick get all the credit for identifying DNA with their “double helix structure” in the 1950s, Miescher’s research is a seminal moment in the history of science.
Since then, we’ve had good, as well as bad, things come out of it like the Eugenics Movement, the Human Genome Project and Dolly the sheep cloned.
To take the discipline to the next level, though, will take something else — and seeing as we’re now in what is called the “quantum 2.0” era, it is of little surprise that the power of quantum mechanics will have such a major role to play in that story.
One participant early in this narrative is Quantum Biosystems, a startup “pioneering the development of innovative sequencers based on quantum mechanics through its proprietary Quantum Sequencing™ IP.”
Founded in 2013 by Masateru Taniguchi and Toshihiko Honkura, Quantum Biosystems has headquarters in Osaka, Japan and Menlo Park, US.
The startup, wholly aware quantum-based sequencing technologies are thought impractical by the wider scientific community, has a team to reverse this into a “viable platform for DNA sequencing”.
This is all achieved with the company’s Quantum Sequencing™ technology. Utilizing single-molecule electrical DNA sequencing by integrating state-of-the-art silicon technology and a modern electric detection system, the platform “allows disruptively label-free, low-cost, high-throughput, and real-time analysis, doing away with complex sample preparation, detection, or analysis, a step forward in R&D in the life sciences.
Quantum Sequencing™: The genetic code, unlocked by physics
— Quantum Biosystems
The Quantum Sequencing™ technology, based on a gating-nanopore method using tunnelling current measurement, has the capacity to change outcomes in critical issue medical research where “ultra-high-speed analysis of DNA sequences and ultra-sensitive, ultra-fast detection of viruses and allergens such as pollen” is required.
Even the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH) is supportive of Quantum Biosystems’ technology, believing it could open up to innovations in ultra-high-speed and ultra-sensitivity analysis that existing technologies have no chance of replicating.
Leading the Quantum Biosystems team is co-founder, president and CEO Toshihiko Honkura. With a master’s degree in analytical biochemistry from the University of Tokyo and an MBA from Columbia University, Honkura has experience in business management and investment analysis as a manager at McKinsey & Company and the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan (INCJ).
As far as financial considerations are concerned, Quantum Biosystems has raised a total of $34.5 million in funding over four rounds, the last one, a Series C round in 2018.
For Honkura and his expert team, unlocking the vast potential of genetic information through the development of innovative sequencers via Quantum Biosystems’ Quantum Sequencing™ technology could be a gamechanger for the life sciences. And as the startup moves ahead, TQD will keep all those with an interest, either through pure curiosity or because they have skin in the game, posted.