Navigation Links
New technique may speed DNA analysis

Just as the printing press revolutionized the creation of reading matter, a "nano-printing" technique developed at MIT could enable the mass production of nano-devices currently built one at a time.

The most immediate candidate for this innovation is the DNA microarray, a nano-device used to diagnose and understand genetic illnesses such as Alzheimer's, viral illnesses such as AIDS, and certain types of cancer.

The ability to mass produce these complex devices would make DNA analysis as common and inexpensive as blood testing, and thus greatly accelerate efforts to discover the origins of disease.

The demand for ever-shrinking devices of ever-increasing complexity in areas from biomedicine to information technology has spurred several research efforts toward high-resolution, high-throughput nano-printing techniques. Professor Francesco Stellacci and graduate student Arum Amy Yu, both in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, have developed a printing method that is unmatched in both information content per printing cycle and resolution. They achieved the latter using what Yu calls "nature's most efficient printing technique: the DNA/RNA information transfer."

In the new printing method, called Supramolecular Nano-Stamping (SuNS), single strands of DNA essentially self-assemble upon a surface to duplicate a nano-scale pattern made of their complementary DNA strands. The duplicates are identical to the master and can thus be used as masters themselves. This increases print output exponentially while enabling the reproduction of very complex nano-scale patterns.

One such pattern is found on a DNA microarray, a silicon or glass chip printed with up to 500,000 tiny dots. Each dot comprises multiple DNA molecules of known sequence, i.e. a piece of an individual's genetic code. Scientists use DNA microarrays to discover and analyze a person's DNA or messenger-RNA genetic code. This allows for, say, the early diagnosis of liver cancer, or the prediction of the chances that a couple will produce a child with a genetic disease.

Frequent, widespread use of these devices is hindered by the fact that producing them is a painstaking process that involves at least 400 printing steps and costs approximately $500 per microarray.

MIT's nano-printing method requires only three steps and could reduce the cost of each microarray to under $50. "This would completely revolutionize diagnostics," said Stellacci. With the ability to mass produce these devices and thus make DNA analysis routine, "we could know years in advance of cancer, hepatitis, or Alzheimer's."

Another benefit would be large-scale diagnostics that could provide useful information about disease. Take diabetes. "We don't know if it's genetic. The only way to find out is to test a lot of people," said Stellacci. "The more we test with microarrays, the more we know about illnesses, and the more we can detect them."

SuNS has applications beyond DNA microarrays. Materials both organic and inorganic (metal nanoparticles, for example) can be made to assemble along a pattern composed of DNA strands. This makes SuNS a versatile technology that could be used to produce other complex nano-devices currently manufactured slowly and expensively: micro- and nano-fluidics channels, single-electron transistors, optical biosensors and metallic wires, to name a few.

Stellacci recently received renewed funding from the Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation to continue work on SuNS. The work is also funded by the National Science Foundation.

A version of this article appeared in the May 18, 2005 issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume 49, Number 28).



Related biology news :

1. New lab technique identifies high levels of pathogens in therapy pool
2. Brain-mapping technique aids understanding of sleep, wakefulness
3. Study reveals new technique for fingerprinting environmental samples
4. Researchers pioneer new gene therapy technique using natural repair process
5. Newer imaging techniques may lead to over-treatment
6. Gene silencing technique offers new strategy for treating, curing disease
7. Mosaic mouse technique offers a powerful new tool to study diseases and genetics
8. Researchers devise new technique for creating human stem cells
9. New technique rapidly detects illness-causing bacteria
10. New bioinformatics technique for systematically analyzing key regions in DNA that help control gene activity
11. New technique helps identify multiple DNA regulatory sites
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/11/2015)... , Nov. 11, 2015   MedNet Solutions , an ... of clinical research, is pleased to announce that it will ... Trials (PCT) event, to be held November 17-19 in ... to view live demonstrations of iMedNet , ... how iMedNet has been able to deliver time ...
(Date:11/4/2015)... York , November 4, 2015 ... a new market report published by Transparency Market Research "Home ... Growth, Trends and Forecast 2015 - 2022", the global home ... US$ 30.3 bn by 2022. The market is estimated ... forecast period from 2015 to 2022. Rising security needs ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, ... for U.S. distribution of its DNA library preparation ... and Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq ... the preparation of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the ... diagnostic and prognostic applications in cancer and other ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/27/2015)... ... November 27, 2015 , ... ... that includes over 2,000 technical presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards, ... spectroscopy, covers a wide range of applications such as, but not limited to, ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... India , November 26, 2015 ... The Global Biobanking Market 2016 - 2020 report ... by maintaining integrity and quality in long-term samples, ... enabling long-term cost-effectiveness. Automation minimizes manual errors such ... the technical efficiency. Further, it plays a vital ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... and HOLLISTON, Mass. , Nov. 25, ... HART ), a biotechnology company developing bioengineered organ ... Jim McGorry will present at the LD Micro ... at 2:30 p.m. PT. The presentation will be webcast ... days. Management will also be available at the conference ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: OREX ... fireside chat discussion at the Piper Jaffray 27th Annual ... The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, December 2, at ... A replay will be available for 14 days after ... Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business Development , BrewLife(858) ...
Breaking Biology Technology: