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New project could herald cheaper and more efficient biotechnology
Date:2/21/2012

A team of chemists from the Universities of Southampton and Oxford have been awarded over 4 million to develop a new technique for 'clicking' DNA and RNA segments together. Their project, which is being funded by a strategic Longer and Larger (sLoLa) grant from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) could make biotechnology research cheaper and more efficient.

The scientists hope that their research could enable the production of useful DNA and RNA structures more efficiently and on a larger scale than is possible using current enzyme-based technologies. The project could also lead to the creation of previously unimaginable molecular machines with new industrial and medical uses.

Professor Tom Brown of the University of Southampton, who will jointly lead the project, explains "At the moment, synthesising long DNA molecules by chemical methods is slow and requires a great deal of skill. To avoid this, biologists usually ask chemists to make a large numbers of very short DNA strands which they glue together using enzymes. These enzymes, which have evolved to work under very specific conditions, work brilliantly if you treat them kindly. However, they are delicate, temperamental, and refuse to work with heavily modified DNA or RNA. We have found that we can 'click' DNA and RNA segments together using chemical methods that can replace the enzymes. These chemical linkages are stronger and less choosy than those formed by enzymes and can be produced in large amounts for industrial scale applications."

The ability to 'click' DNA together opens up the possibility of producing new DNA structures decorated with a variety of useful chemical modifications for industrial uses in the Bioeconomy, including in clinical applications. However the 'click' method has not had the luxury of millions of years of evolution, and it inserts an unusual linkage into DNA. Importantly though, the researchers have recently demonstrated th
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Contact: Tracey Jewitt
press.office@bbsrc.ac.uk
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Source:Eurekalert

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