Nanopore DNA sequencing

DNAThere has been a constant rise in the number of technologies trying to determine the precise order of nucleotide bases that make the DNA. One of these inventions is the nanopore sequencing method. This new invention has taken a center stage in the research world for solving one of the greatest science puzzles of biology. Nanopore DNA sequencing machine is able to decode the components of DNA molecule as codons in a continuous trend through a pore. Overall reduction in charges for performing complete human genome sequencing is likely to drop below $1000. This technology comes with a lot of promise for medical practices to a more easy form as genetic diagnosis.

Several options that are currently used for DNA sequencing involves fluorescence labeling for the determination of chemical bases. They are however characterized by slow pace of reaction course making the new nanopore technology a more preferred choice for DNA sequencing and identification. The whole process is made simpler by elimination of steps which involved copying and then labeling by fluorescent dyes in the preceding methods.

Researchers in Massachusetts and California suggested the concept of passing the DNA strand through a pore and reading its letters in the year 1996. This idea prompted more scientific studies on how to achieve the goal of passing DNA through selected proteins with tiny pores. This arrangement was to be done within a film and changes made by the bases as they pass through the tiny pore registered on a detector scale for identification.

One of the major challenges registered with this technology is that whenever an electric voltage was applied through the medium, DNA bases would move through the pore at high speeds. This prompted Mark Akeson and his colleagues at the University of California, Santa Cruz to think of a possible solution two years ago. This was a protein called phi29 which was charged with the responsibility of slowing down the pace of the moving strand of DNA in the nanopore set up.
A report made in the Nature Biotechnology by a team under the leadership of Jens Gundlach, A physicist at the University of Washington, Seattle, incorporated the use of phi29 protein. The nanopore set up by this team rapidly identifies all the four chemical bases in the course of the DNA strand movement. Using phi29 in the set up allows for an electrical identification of each base as it passes, a feature making this technology be referred to as holy grail according to Gundlach.

This advancement was taken up by Oxford Nanopore Technologies with its officials saying at a meeting held in February at Florida, that they had already snagged the nanopore grail. Oxford Nanopore Technologies promised to expand the nanopore DNA sequencing concept with complete reading of full DNA electronically and at the same time selling machines with thousands nanopore running as well. This is projected to be realized by the year 2013 running full genome for as fast as within 15 minutes for about $1000.

The report from Oxford Nanopore was the first announcement that was welcome by genome researchers. Geoffrey Barrall, president of Electronic Biosciences, San Diego, California however had a different reaction to this report claiming that the data was not comprehensive enough. Nanopore is considered by genome researchers to be a major boost in better understanding of DNA sequencing. Barrall is however in support of the Gundlach’s team idea to be the first instance where DNA has been sequenced.

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