Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Genetics-DNA sequencer final frontier


Description: Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2011Description: http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSWmw3ohVht04h7jj1HiZxOGLWAdCOpI1-ib0snoKs3KUxwVoS6Description: Biggest Scientific Breakthroughs of 2011
Genetics-DNA sequencer final frontier
by Benjamin McCrindle
 

As you all know there have been numerous breakthroughs in the field of science in the last few months.





Text Box: Figure 3: Heartbeat-powered nano-generators could soon replace batteries,
(Gonzales, R 2011)
Text Box: Figure 2: Electronics and biometric sensors that you wear like a temporary tattoo (Gonzales, R 2011)
 





However one of the most notable advances in the field of genetics is the new Deoxyribonucleic sequencing technology from Oxford University’s company, Nanopore Technology. The GridIon and MinIon respectively the size of a DVD player and USB can sequence the entire human genome in a matter of hours, (kollewe 2012).
Figure 4: www.ngs-brescia.blogspot.com 2012
 
Description: http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTLSzxIrIi4huOA3lvnorDZ_bQaCIcaG35h78vYsvd-yVuOzWT8Description: http://www.elements-science.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Nanopore_New_Images-26_copy-3.jpg
Figure 5: Adam smith, 2012
Description: http://blog.sciseek.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/swine-flu-h1n1-virus.jpgDescription: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_bEXLFX-XoTs/TUhvxWW4mRI/AAAAAAAAADg/13S9sFHF_6w/s320/pharmacology-3.jpgDescription: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_bEXLFX-XoTs/TUhvxqi7wwI/AAAAAAAAADo/Y3DYeON0Yec/s1600/practical%2Bpharmacology.jpgThis is such a significant breakthrough, because until recently to roughly sequence DNA it took a few days and could cost up to 10 million dollars, (Kollewe 2012). Whereas now it will only cost around 900 Australian . This new technology will change the face of pharmacology, epidemic control, modern medicine and a vast array of research fields, (kollewe 2012).
          



What's more the GridIon and MinIon are more precise at DNA sequencing than the much larger mainframe systems. As well as being easier to transport and comparably inexpensive to run, (oxford nanopore technology 2012). Additionally this technology has also overcome the problem of the rate of translocation in DNA sequencing. That is, this new technology is able to reduce the speed at which DNA is sequenced from roughly “one million bases a second, to three hundred bases a second” (Kollewe 2012), which allows for far more accurate identifications.
(For original reading: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/feb/17/dna-machine-human-sequencing/print)

Description: http://images.gizmag.com/inline/dna-nanopore-sequencer-3.jpgSo how does this all work?
Well this technology uses the method of “strand sequencing”, (oxford nanopore technology 2012). Basically you place a drop of blood on the device for example and as the DNA polymer enters the device an enzyme attaches to the DNA and guides it to a engineered nanopore that is a “pore-forming protein that sits in an electrically resistant lipid bilayer” (oxford nanopore technology 2012)



Figure 6: nanopore (oxford nanopore tech 2012)
 
 


Description: This diagram shows a protein nanopore set in an electrically resistant membrane bilayer (I...The enzyme than unzips the DNA helix into its two separate strands and one strand at a time goes through the nanopore, (Smith 2012). Than as the DNA polymer enters the nanopore the specifically set ionic charge that is passing through the nanopore is disrupted, (Smith 2012). Consequently because each molecule has a specific size and shape, the disturbances accurately correlate to a specific DNA base, molecule or protein and these can be identified using the built in specialised algorithms, (Smith 2012).








(This process is made clearer by watching the following video on the Oxford Nanopore Technology website:
http://vimeo.com/36907534)
This product will allow in-the-field testing of evolving strands of disease outbreaks like , (Kollewe 2012). Additionally it will open the door to personally targeted pharmaceuticals and medical treatments, such as knowing exactly which drug works best for serious pain-relief in individuals, (Kollewe 2012). Moreover it will also aid in scientific research, such as combating genetic disorders. Finally it will also allow drugs that are kept of the shelf due to their effects on to 0.1% of the population to be given to the other 99.9% which in turn can probably provide a better treatment and less serious side effects, (kollewe 2012).

Therefore in concluding a new breakthrough has been made by Oxfords’ Nanopore Technology in the field of genetics. This technology sequences DNA in organism such as the human genome, in a matter of hours and for less than nine hundred Australian dollars. Through the use of Nanopores’, ionic currents and algorithms, specific bases and molecules can be recognized and recorded, by technology that is the size of a DVD player or USB. This opens the door to a vast array of individual medical treatments and scientific research fields.
For more information, diagrams and explanations check out the following sites
1)       Kollewe, J 2012, DNA machine can sequence human genome in hours, viewed 14 March 2012,<http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/feb/17/dna-machine-human-sequencing/print
2)       Oxford Nanopore Technology  2012, GridIon and MinIon systems, viewed 14 March 2012,
<
http://www.nanoporetech.com/gridion/minion/technology
3)       Smith, A 2012, Disrupt: scientists probe bold gene sequencing startup, Elements, United Kingdom, viewed 15 March 2012, <http://www.elements-science.co.uk/2012/02/disrupt-scientists-probe-bold-gene-sequencing-startup/


Word length 546 words (minus in text referencing)
Images are from the following sites
4)       Gonzalez, R 2011, Biggest scientific breakthroughs of 2011, http://io9.com/5871725/sixteen-of-2011s-biggest-scientific-breakthroughs
5)       News on genomic studies 2012, www.ngs-brescia.blogspot.com
6)       Smith, A 2012, Disrupt: scientists probe bold gene sequencing startup, Elements, United Kingdom, <http://www.elements-science.co.uk/2012/02/disrupt-scientists-probe-bold-gene-sequencing-startup/
7)       Now you Know 2011, http://www.ngs-brescia.blogspot.com.au/


           


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