Force Spectroscopy Platform for DNA Sequencing


Lehigh University has developed a technique based on molecular mechanics which detects changes in molecular elasticity of a single DNA fragment upon conversion from a single-stranded to double-stranded form.  Essentially this technology is sequencing by synthesis and its advantages are that one could use native dNTPs and substrates and not be bound by previous intellectual property and the single molecules are detected via microscopic beads, therefore high resolution is not needed and one can look at very large areas with very low magnification objectives requiring no scanning.


This method addresses the challenge of delivering fast and affordable genome sequencing: detection of a single nucleotide addition (SNA). Force spectroscopy of DNA undergoing arrested polymerization implements one-molecule-at-the-time analysis of changes in molecular mechanics. With the use of optical near field probes, the method of force spectroscopy has a massively parallel format, where millions of SNA additions can be followed at the same time.


The technique does not require labeling of nucleotide bases, and base calling is done exclusively on the basis of changes experienced by the molecule as a whole. Exclusion of separation and amplification steps further speeds up the timeframe of genome sequencing. This technology can be used for genomics research, DNA sequencing and clinical screening.


Lehigh TechID# 083106-02



The worldwide bioinformatics market is estimated to be around $1.6 billion, growing at a rate of over 20% annually. The completion of the Human Genome Project and the rise in the interest of genomics is catalyzing the growth of this market. There has also been growing interest in personalized medicine which relies on genomics for diagnostics and treatment. In addition, the movement of big market players to acquire sequencing technologies has issued a shift from primarily research use to a commercial industry. [1,2]

[1] Marx, Vivien. “Bioinformatics Firms See Microsoft Acquisition of Rosetta Biosoftware as Boost for the Field.”  June 2009. Genome Web

Emailsite.  (accessed November 21, 2011).

[2] “Innovations in Bioinformatics.” January 2008. Business Insights. Market Report Source web site. (accessed November 21, 2011).



Lehigh University is currently looking to identify corporate partners.

App Type Country Serial No. Patent No. File Date Issued Date Expire Date
Utility United States 12/057,251 7,892,739 3/27/2008 2/22/2011 9/11/2028
Life Sciences
For Information, Contact:
Rick Smith
Lehigh University
Dmitri Vezenov
Biomedical Applications
DNA sequencing
Force Spectroscopy