A Solid-State Nanopore miRNA Quantification Technology

Tech ID: 18-041

Inventor: Ceming Wang, Dr. Hsueh-Chia Chang, Dr Satyajyoti Senapati

Date Added: May 20, 2021


A method of quantifying specific miRNA targets in a biological sample using solid-state nanopores

Technology Summary

miRNA plays an important role in influencing tissue response to physio-pathological stress. More than 2500 miRNAs have been identified in humans. miRNAs are currently used as a secondary measure in cancer diagnostics, disease management, and potential therapeutic interventions. miRNA quantification appears to be a promising primary method of diagnosing diseases earlier and more accurately. However, there needs to be more research and development to normalize samples and reliably deliver accurate results on real human samples. Current industry methods of quantifying miRNAs encounter several problems. These include: expensive methods, inability to profile with low copy numbers of target miRNA, and low accuracy due to miRNA specific biases. There is a need for a miRNA profiling method that can accurately quantify a set of miRNA, associated with a certain disease, from a biological sample.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have recently developed a method for detecting and quantifying multiple miRNA biomarkers at low copy numbers. This methodology can be performed in a very heterogeneous sample, without amplification, hybridization, and ligation biases. The invention integrates a microfluidic chip with pretreatment components compatible with nanopore technology. The nanopore structure slows the movement of molecules through the material and allows for distinct signals to individually count each target miRNA. This is in contrast to the amplification required in other methods that distorts the relative abundance of the target. This technology reduces the translocation time of miRNA across solid-state nanopores by increasing the interaction between the target miRNA and the pore material. This robust, low cost, portable multi-disease profiling platform is capable of accurately quantifying a large number of miRNAs in complex samples. Such a platform would significantly speed up the process from biomarker discovery, validation, and regulatory approval, to translation into the clinical setting.

Market Advantages

  • Increased accuracy due to reduced miRNA translocation time and sensitivity to single molecules
  • Earlier diagnosis of cancer and other diseases due to high efficacy at low copy numbers of target miRNA
  • Low-cost solution for miRNA quantification compared to real-time PCR or microarrays 

Market Opportunities

  • $646M miRNA market, 11.4% CAGR

Technology Readiness Level

TRL 3- Experimental Proof of Concept

Intellectual Property Status

US 2018/0258461 - Systems and Method of Electrophoretic Fractionation of the Microbiome


  • Wang, C., Sensale, S., Pan, Z. et al. Slowing down DNA translocation through solid-state nanopores by edge-field leakage. Nat Commun 12, 140 (2021).  doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20409-4


Richard Cox