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Boston University reseachers develop faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method
Date:12/20/2009

(BOSTON) EMBARGOED UNTIL 1 P.M. EST 12/20/09 -- Boston University biomedical engineers have devised a method for making future genome sequencing faster and cheaper by dramatically reducing the amount of DNA required, thus eliminating the expensive, time-consuming and error-prone step of DNA amplification.

In a study published in the Dec. 20 online edition of Nature Nanotechnology, a team led by Boston University Biomedical Engineering Associate Professor Amit Meller details pioneering work in detecting DNA molecules as they pass through silicon nanopores. The technique uses electrical fields to feed long strands of DNA through four-nanometer-wide pores, much like threading a needle. The method uses sensitive electrical current measurements to detect single DNA molecules as they pass through the nanopores.

"The current study shows that we can detect a much smaller amount of DNA sample than previously reported," said Meller. "When people start to implement genome sequencing or genome profiling using nanopores, they could use our nanopore capture approach to greatly reduce the number of copies used in those measurements."

Currently, genome sequencing utilizes DNA amplification to make billions of molecular copies in order to produce a sample large enough to be analyzed. In addition to the time and cost DNA amplification entails, some of the molecules like photocopies of photocopies come out less than perfect. Meller and his colleagues at BU, New York University and Bar-Ilan University in Israel have harnessed electrical fields surrounding the mouths of the nanopores to attract long, negatively charged strands of DNA and slide them through the nanopore where the DNA sequence can be detected. Since the DNA is drawn to the nanopores from a distance, far fewer copies of the molecule are needed.

Before creating this new method, the team had to develop an understanding of electro-physics at the nanoscale, where the rule
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Contact: Mike Seele
mseele@bu.edu
617-353-9766
Boston University College of Engineering
Source:Eurekalert  

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Boston University reseachers develop faster, cheaper DNA sequencing method
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