Next-gen gene sequencing for the price of a sandwich

New enterprises have been racing toward the $1,000 gene sequencing goal as new technology makes it simpler and less expensive to explore an individual's DNA and unlock specific disease triggers. Now researchers at Imperial College London are looking down the road another 10 years and hoping that next-gen technology can reduce the whole process to a simple lab procedure that can be accomplished in a matter of minutes.

The technology 'shoots' a strand of DNA with a burst of electricity, forcing it through a nanopore-sized hole in a silicon chip and creating signals on the base code that can be read by a computer.

"Compared with current technology, this device could lead to much cheaper sequencing: just a few dollars, compared with $1 million to sequence an entire genome in 2007," says Dr. Joshua Edel. "We haven't tried it on a whole genome yet[,] but our initial experiments suggest that you could theoretically do a complete scan of the 3,165 million bases in the human genome within minutes, providing huge benefits for medical tests, or DNA profiles for police and security work. It should be significantly faster and more reliable, and would be easy to scale up to create a device with the capacity to read up to 10 million bases per second, versus the typical 10 bases per second you get with the present day single molecule real-time techniques."

"Nanopore sequencing would be a fast, simple procedure, unlike available commercial methods, which require time-consuming and destructive chemical processes to break down and replicate small sections of the DNA molecules to determine their sequence," says co-author Aleksandar Ivanov. "Additionally, these silicon chips are incredibly durable compared with some of the more delicate materials currently used. They can be handled, washed and reused many times over without degrading their performance."

- here's the article from PhysOrg