Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Advance May Put Gene Chip Technology On Scientists' Desktops

Date:
September 29, 1999
Source:
University Of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
The sexiest, most insightful technology in modern genetics, the gene chip, a technology that permits scientists to analyze thousands of genes at once, may soon come within easy reach of most biologists.

MADISON - The sexiest, most insightful technology in modern genetics, the gene chip, a technology that permits scientists to analyze thousands of genes at once, may soon come within easy reach of most biologists.

Related Articles


Writing in the October issue of the journal Nature Biotechnology, a group of scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison describe a new way to cheaply and simply manufacture the customized chips capable of deconstructing long segments of DNA. The technique enables biologists to scour huge chunks of animal and plant genomes in search of the genes that promote disease, the genetic switches that govern such biological phenomena as aging, and the DNA codes that permit microorganisms to make antibiotics.

At present, such chips are available only from a single company, Affymetrix of Santa Clara, Calif. Off the shelf versions of Affymetrix chips cost $2,500. Customized chips containing DNA from specific organisms or tissues can take months to make and cost as much as $12,000 each.

"Now, the chips are expensive. You use it one time and throw it away," said Roland Green, a UW-Madison post-doctoral fellow and a lead author of the Nature Biotechnology paper.

The new technique, according to Michael Sussman, a UW-Madison professor of horticulture and genetics, and a co-author of the paper, is known as MAS for Maskless Array Synthesizer. It promises to take the technology and put it in the laboratory of virtually any research biologist.

"This technology could sit on anyone's bench top," said Sussman. "It will give people the ability to make any array of synthetic compounds, any time."

Gene chip technology now depends on photolithography, a process that requires shining ultraviolet light through a series of stencil-like masks onto a glass chip resulting in the synthesis of tens of thousands of DNA molecules of interest. Each DNA molecule synthesized on such a chip, said Sussman, is like a window to a wealth of genetic information, providing a glimpse of the workings of tens of thousands of genes found in the cells of living organisms.

A recent example of gene chip technology at work was the report of another group of Wisconsin scientists who used a gene chip to discover the genes involved in the process of aging in mice.

But making those chips and their masks, each customized to dissect a specific problem in genomic analysis, is a clumsy, time-consuming and expensive process. Sometimes, as many as 100 masks are required to make a single chip that has as many as 500,000 tiny, DNA-laden compartments.

The new technology reported by the Wisconsin team capitalizes on an off-the-shelf Texas Instruments technology used in overhead projection known as Digital Light Processors. At the heart of the technology is an array of 480,000 tiny aluminum mirrors arranged on a computer chip.

By manipulating the mirrors, the Wisconsin team, an unusual mix of molecular biologists and semiconductor engineers, found that they could shine light in very specific patterns, eliminating entirely the need for the delicate and expensive masks used in traditional DNA chip technology.

The MAS process for making customized DNA chips, according to UW-Madison professor of electrical and computer engineering Franco Cerrina, can be likened to desktop publishing: "Instead of several weeks, it takes eight hours to make a chip," he said, and the cost of producing such chips is reduced significantly.

Moreover, MAS has the potential to be used to clinically diagnose genetic disease in humans, and holds great promise for various drug discovery schemes, and the testing of other biological building blocks such as proteins and carbohydrates.

The Wisconsin group has applied for a patent for the new technology through the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, a not-for-profit corporation that manages intellectual property on behalf of UW-Madison scientists. Rights to the technology have been licensed to a Madison-based company known as NimbleGen Systems.

NimbleGen, founded by three of the paper's authors, will focus on development and commercialization of the new technology.

The Wisconsin team includes Green of the UW-Madison Environmental Toxicology Program; physicist Sangeet Singh-Gasson, now of the University of Illinois at Chicago; Yongjian Yue of the UW-Madison department of electrical and computer engineering; Clark Nelson of the UW-Madison Biotechnology Center; Fred Blattner, UW-Madison professor of genetics; Sussman; and Cerrina.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Wisconsin-Madison. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Advance May Put Gene Chip Technology On Scientists' Desktops." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 September 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990929021001.htm>.
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. (1999, September 29). Advance May Put Gene Chip Technology On Scientists' Desktops. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990929021001.htm
University Of Wisconsin-Madison. "Advance May Put Gene Chip Technology On Scientists' Desktops." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990929021001.htm (accessed November 27, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

NASA's First 3-D Printer In Space Creates Its First Object

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) The International Space Station is now using a proof-of-concept 3D printer to test additive printing in a weightless, isolated environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Bolivian Recycling Initiative Turns Plastic Waste Into School Furniture

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 26, 2014) Innovative recycling project in La Paz separates city waste and converts plastic garbage into school furniture made from 'plastiwood'. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Blu-Ray Discs Getting Second Run As Solar Panels

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Researchers at Northwestern University are repurposing Blu-ray movies for better solar panel technology thanks to the discs' internal structures. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Today's Prostheses Are More Capable Than Ever

Newsy (Nov. 26, 2014) Advances in prosthetics are making replacement body parts stronger and more lifelike than they’ve ever been. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins