This is the view of a team from the University of Washington (UW) in Seattle that has developed a technique involving "nanopore DNA sequencing" that overcomes a technological barrier to advancing sequencing technology. The researchers describe their new technique in a paper published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.
The project leader is Jen Gundlach, a UW professor of physics. Lead author Andrew Laszlo, a graduate student in Prof. Gundlach's lab says one of the reasons scientists get excited about nanopore DNA sequencing is they believe it could one day lead to handheld medical scanners reminiscent of the multifunction "tricorders"
The UW team's new nanopore-based technique is important because most of the technology used in gene sequencing can only work with short sequences of DNA - typically snippets of no more than 50 to 100 of the four nucleotides or "letters" that make up the genetic code, namely the molecules adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. Plus, they have to be processed by large sequencing devices in a lab, and it can take days to weeks until the result are ready.
But nanopore technology promises to transform this and make DNA sequencing technology cheaper and faster, and - now with the step the UW team has taken - also able to deal with longer DNA sequences.
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