Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Recent Genetic advance in DNA sequencing

At one point in a person’s life they will come into contact with a terrible genetic disease, whether it be themselves or someone close around them. Well what if that doesn’t have to be the case. With recent research and experimentation a new device has been made that is making DNA sequencing quick and affordable.

Over recent years there has been many new advances in genetics. DNA sequencing is one of the largest areas that have improved over this last decade. With the latest DNA sequencer being the size of a usb stick and much more efficient. With the job being complete in hours opposed to the years it took for the first genome to be sequenced. Using Nanopore technology Oxford Nanopore technologies have been able to create this tiny sequencer called MinION, with less likely hood of error (Greenwood, 2012).
MinION is a miniaturised portable device that electronically senses single molecules. Oxford Nanopore have found that by making a full longer lasting bilayer on the sensing chips using polymers the device is much more reliable and also disposable. Once the experiment is complete it can be plugged straight into a computer using the usb port to make for an easy transfer of the obtained DNA sequence.

In the past DNA sequences where taken by chopping DNA into to small pieces, so that it could be analysed, however this always created a lot of errors in the sequence and was expensive.

However the MinION uses nanopore technology, much alike string through a bead, the DNA is threaded through a nanopore, which are a ring of protein. The nanopore is embedded in a synthetic polymer membrane and an enzyme is placed atop the nanopore, which unzips the DNA so a single strand is passed through. A current is then passed through the nucleotide bases under an electronic potential, the disruption in the current is what allows the bases to be identified. The removal of mincing up DNA allows the strand to be reanalysed if necessary, as it is not destroyed.

This latest advance allows genome sequencing to be performed at a low cost and in a short amount of time. The original genome sequence cost well over a $10000000 as well as taking nearly a decade to complete. However the new technology has allowed entire genomes to be sequenced in 6 hours and only costing $900 (Greenwood, 2012)

With the ability to sequence a genome in a few hours for only a small amount of money in the scheme of things, it will allow for great advances in medicine, ranging from personalized medication to pinpoints mutations of DNA and correcting them specifically.

DNA sequencing now has the ability to be done all the time for all of those that wish to have it done. Oxford Nanopores technologies have made this possible with the MinION that is going to be commercialised later this year. With this huge advance in genetics there will surely be a huge advance in medicine to follow.


. Arijit Banerjeea, E. M.-Q. (2010, March 3). Molecular bases of cyclodextrin adapter interactions with engineered protein nanopores. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from PNSA: http://www.pnas.org/content/107/18/8165

David Stoddart, A. J. (2009, March 11). Single-nucleotide discrimination in immobilized DNA oligonucleotides with a biological nanopore . Retrieved March 12, 2012, from PNSA: http://www.pnsa.org/content/106/19/7702.full.pdf+html

Genomics.energy,gov. (2008, September 19). Facts about Genome Sequencing. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from Human Genome information: http://www.ornl.gov/sci/techresources/Human_Genome/faq/seqfacts.shtml

Greenwood, V. (2012, Febuary 22). New Mini DNA Sequencer. Retrieved March 16, 2012, from Discovery Magazine: http://www.nanoporetech.com/technology/analytes-and-applications-dna-rna-proteins/dna-an-introduction-to-nanopore-sequencing

Oxford Nanopore Technologies. (2011, october 12). MinION - DNA sequencing. Retrieved March 15, 2012, from Oxford Nanopore Technologies: http://www.nanoporetech.com/technology/analytes-and-applications-dna-rna-proteins/dna-an-introduction-to-nanopore-sequencing

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