Faster, cheaper way to sequence human genome on the cards

Washington, April 16 (Inditop) Researchers are developing a faster and cheaper way of sequencing the human genome to make it a part of routine medical care.

The idea is to figure out how to accurately read the three billion base pairs – the amount of DNA found in humans and other mammals – without time-consuming, inefficient methods.

Physicists at Brown University (B-U) may have an answer, having introduced a novel procedure to vastly slow the DNA’s movement through openings that are used to read the code.

The approach is promising because it allows multiple segments of a DNA strand to be threaded simultaneously through tiny nanopores and for each fragment to move slowly enough through the opening so that the base pairs can be accurately read.

“When it comes to sequencing anyone’s genome, you need to do it cheaply, and you need to do it quickly,” said Xinsheng Sean Ling, professor of physics. “This is a step in that direction.”

The scientists reported their technique reduces the average speed of the DNA strand’s passage by more than 2,000-fold. “It can be slower even. There is no limit,” Ling said, according to a Brown release.

A similar experiment has been done using optical tweezers, Ling said, but it involves only one DNA strand at a time. The Brown method sends multiple strands through the nanopores simultaneously. “It is scalable,” Ling said.

The researchers expect to test their technique in experiments using bacterial DNA.

These findings were published in Nanotechnology