Base4 Innovation is a Cambridge-based company developing a new DNA sequencing technology that has the potential to disrupt a large and growing market currently dominated by Illumina.
The sequencing technology involves enzymatically cleaving sequential nucleotides from a strand of DNA and encapsulating them in water microdroplets suspended in oil. A proprietary biochemical reaction inside each droplet generates a fluorescent signal unique to the nucleotide. The Company has optimised a photoelectric technique called electrowetting-on-dielectric (EWOD) that allows individual microdroplets to be moved around a conductive surface using a beam of light with previously unseen speed and accuracy. Using this technology, Base4 is currently developing a prototype desktop sequencing device, aiming to increase access to rapid DNA sequencing by lowering the cost barriers to researchers.