Arizona State University scientists have come up with a new twist in their efforts to develop a faster and cheaper way to read the DNA genetic code. They have developed the first, versatile DNA reader that can discriminate between DNA's four core chemical components⎯the key to unlocking the vital code behind human heredity and health.
Led by ASU Regents' Professor Stuart Lindsay, director of the Biodesign Institute's Center for Single Molecule Biophysics, the ASU team is one of a handful that has received stimulus funds for a National Human Genome Research Initiative, part of the National Institutes of Health, to make DNA genome sequencing as widespread as a routine medical checkup.
The broad goal of this "$1000 genome" initiative is to develop a next-generation DNA sequencing technology to usher in the age of personalized medicine, where knowledge of an individual's complete, 3 billion-long code of DNA information, or genome, will allow for a more tailored approach to disease diagnosis and treatment. With current technologies taking almost a year to complete at a cost of several hundreds of thousands of dollars, less than 20 individuals on the planet have had their whole genomes sequenced to date.
To make their research dream a reality, Lindsay's team has envisioned building a tiny, nanoscale DNA reader that could work like a supermarket checkout scanner, distinguishing between the four chemical letters of the DNA genetic code, abbreviated by A, G, C, and T, as they rapidly pass by the reader.
To do so, they needed to develop the nanotechnology equivalent of threading the eye of a needle. In this case, the DNA would be the thread that could be recognized as it moved past the reader 'eye.' During the past few years, Lindsay's team has made steady progress, and first demonstrated the ability to read individual DNA sequences in 2008but this approach was limited because they had to use four separate readers to recognize each
|Contact: Joe Caspermeyer|
Arizona State University