Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Melting DNA into a barcode

19.07.2010
A completely new method for producing an image of individual DNA molecules’ genetic make-up has been developed by researchers in Sweden and Denmark. The results are published in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS).

“The technique is quicker, easier and cheaper than existing methods. Therefore we hope that it can be used in hospitals in the future. Mapping a person’s genome, or genetic make-up, is currently an expensive and complicated process”, explains Jonas Tegenfeldt, researcher in Solid State Physics at Lund University and one of the senior authors of the article.

According to the researchers, the technique could be used to find out more easily whether someone is carrying a genetic predisposition to certain diseases.

The hope is that it could be used to diagnose and characterise diseases that are caused by significant changes and mutations in the genetic make-up, known as structural variations, that are associated with, for example, cancer, autism and several hereditary diseases. In addition, the method could be of use in criminal investigations, because it might speed up identification of evidence.

The technique, which has recently been patented, utilises the fact that different parts of the DNA molecule melt at different temperatures. A central component of the DNA molecule is the nucleobase pairs. These are found in two pair varieties; AT, which stands for adenine and thymine, and GC, which stands for guanine and cytosine. The GC pair is more firmly bound and requires a higher temperature to melt.

By first stretching out the tightly twisted DNA molecule in a nanochannel and then heating it up so that only the AT pair melt, it is possible to obtain a ‘barcode’ of the person’s 46 chromosomes. In order to make certain parts darker than others, the DNA molecule must be stained. The parts that melt – the AT parts – emit less fluorescence and become dark fields in the barcode.

The image produced shows the rough composition of the DNA molecule, and thus that of the chromosome. Such ‘barcodes’ are nothing new, but this approach to creating the barcodes is completely new. With this method, the DNA analysis process becomes significantly shorter, from 24 hours to around one or two hours.

“The barcode technique could be a simple way to identify what types of virus and bacteria we are dealing with. We can also find out whether something has gone wrong in the human genome, because it is possible to see if any part of the chromosome has moved for any reason. This is what happens in certain diseases”, explains Jonas Tegenfeldt, adding that beyond all the applications an important motivation for the research is still ‘just’ basic scientific curiosity.

A further advantage of this barcode technique over other techniques is that only one DNA molecule is required. The fact that the DNA does not have to be amplified also means that it is easy to compare a number of cells and thereby discover any differences between them.

The method provides a rough image of the genome, but compared to other similar methods, such as chromosome banding, the image is still a thousand times sharper. The fact that the measurements must be performed on each molecule individually could also pose a limitation; it is not easy to obtain an average from a large number of molecules.

For more information, please contact Jonas Tegenfeldt, researcher at the Division of Solid State Physics at the Faculty of Engineering, Lund University, +46 (0)46 222 8063 or jonas.tegenfeldt@ftf.lth.se.

Ingemar Björklund | idw
Further information:
http://www.vr.se
http://www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1007081107

Further reports about: Barcode Chromosome DNA DNA molecule Melting rock genetic make-up nucleobase pairs thymine

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Link Discovered between Immune System, Brain Structure and Memory
26.04.2017 | Universität Basel

nachricht Researchers develop eco-friendly, 4-in-1 catalyst
25.04.2017 | Brown University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Millions through license revenues

27.04.2017 | Health and Medicine

The TU Ilmenau develops tomorrow’s chip technology today

27.04.2017 | Information Technology

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>