DNA sequencing breakthrough facilitates complete scans on pocket-sized devices


New technological advances have made it possible to carry out direct sequencing of long strands of DNA using pocket-sized devices.

Scientists from the Universities of Birmingham, Nottingham, East Anglia, California, Salt Lake City, British Columbia and Toronto have utilised innovative nanopore technology to sequence a complete human genome in fragments hundreds of times larger than usual.

“New nanopore technology for sequencing long strands of DNA has made it possible for human genomes to be sequenced using a pocket-sized device.“

The sequencer is approximately the size of a mobile phone and is able to sequence DNA by detecting changes in current flow as single molecules of DNA pass through tiny holes, or nanopores, in a membrane.

The team were able to use this tool to analyse a sequencing read that was 1,204,840 bases in length, around 8,000 times longer than a typical sequence. This makes it much easier to piece together a complete genome than was the case with previous techniques.

Dr Andrew Beggs, of the University of Birmingham's Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, said: "Thanks to advances using the nanopore system, I think in five to ten years we'll be at the stage where genetic sequencing will be as ubiquitous as boiling a kettle or making a cup of tea."

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