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Updated: December 21, 2009 18:14 IST

DNA sequencing made faster

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Computer artwork of a double- stranded DNA helix.
Science Photo Library Computer artwork of a double- stranded DNA helix.

American researchers have discovered a technique that will make genome sequencing faster and cheaper by dramatically reducing the amount of DNA required.

A team of researchers led by Boston University scientist Amit Meller has devised a method which will soon eliminate the expensive, time-consuming and error-prone step of DNA amplification.

In the study, published in journal Nature Nanotechnology, the team developed a way to draw long strands of DNA efficiently through nanopore sensors using electrical fields.

“The technique uses electrical fields to feed long strands of DNA through four nanometre wide pores, much like threading a needle. The method uses sensitive electrical current measurements to detect single DNA molecules as they pass through the nanopores,” said Mr. Meller.

“The current study shows that we can detect a much smaller amount of DNA sample than previously reported,” he said

The researcher added, “When people start to implement genome sequencing or genome profiling using nanopores, they could use our nanopore capture approach to greatly reduce the number of copies used in those measurements“.

Currently, genome sequencing utilises DNA amplification to make billions of molecular copies in order to produce a sample large enough to be analyzed.

In addition to the time and cost DNA amplification entails, some of the molecules – like photocopies of photocopies – come out less than perfect.

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