Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Improved decoding of DNA for custom medical treatments

Date:
November 7, 2013
Source:
American Technion Society
Summary:
Scientists have moved a step closer to creating custom medical treatment plans based on a patient's DNA, pinpointing the root of a patient's illness and making sure treatment will not cause a fatal allergic reaction.

The Opto-electrical effect can be used to control the passage of DNA molecules through nanopore sensors, thereby leading to more accurate sensing and sequencing of individual DNA molecules.
Credit: The American Technion Society (ATS)

One day, doctors will be able to create custom medical treatment plans based on a patient's DNA, pinpointing the root of a patient's illness and making sure treatment will not cause a fatal allergic reaction. Thanks to Technion Professor Amit Meller fantasy is one step closer to being a reality

The key to bringing about this revolutionary DNA-based medicine is the quick and accurate decoding of a patient's genome. A genome is the unique sequence of special molecules along a chain of DNA that tells a cell's machinery which proteins to produce, and when. Those crucial genome molecules are called "nucleobases," and are known as adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine (or A, T, C, and G, for short). Prof. Meller and his team developed a way to record the As, Ts, Cs, and Gs in a person's DNA by forcing a DNA molecule to slip through a tiny hole -- called a "nanopore" -- in a tiny silicon chip the size of the head of a nail.

(Just how small is a nanopore? It measures anywhere between 2 and 5 nanometers, or billionths of a meter, in diameter. In comparison, a human hair measures 100 micrometers, or millionths of a meter, in diameter.)

The scientists begin by dunking the DNA molecules in a combination of water and electrically charged salt molecules. As the saltwater flows through the nanopore, it creates an electric current. When a DNA molecule passes through the pore, however, the current is disrupted. And, the amount of current disruption depends on which A, T, C, or G is in the pore.

Therefore, to read the sequence of nucleobases, a scientist simply has to find out how much each base disrupts the electric current. With that information, he could read the sequence of DNA bases simply by logging the sequence of electrical disruptions as a DNA molecule passed through. There's a catch, though. "To do this, each base must stay in the pore long enough to make it very clear how much current it blocks, so that one can correctly identify the nucleobase," says Prof. Meller.

But DNA usually moves too quickly through the nanopores for Meller and his team to decode it. To slow the DNA down, they shone a green laser -- no stronger than laser pointers used in classrooms -- at the pore, which gave it a negative electric charge. The nanopore then attracted the positively charged potassium atoms in the saltwater. Those atoms, along with some of the water, moved towards the pore, creating a flow that blocked the movement of the DNA. "So, that creates a drag force on the DNA, slowing it down so that each base sites in the nanopore longer," says Prof. Meller.

This method of reading DNA sequences is still under laboratory development. But Meller envisions a future in which the nanopore chip could be built into a portable device -- about the size of a smartphone -- that could be brought right to the patient.

The Technion research team collaborated with colleagues at Boston University on this project. The team's results were published on the November 3rd in the online edition of Nature Nanotechnology.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Technion Society. The original article was written by Tova Kantrowitz. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicolas Di Fiori, Allison Squires, Daniel Bar, Tal Gilboa, Theodore D. Moustakas, Amit Meller. Optoelectronic control of surface charge and translocation dynamics in solid-state nanopores. Nature Nanotechnology, 2013; DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2013.221

Cite This Page:

American Technion Society. "Improved decoding of DNA for custom medical treatments." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 November 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107162058.htm>.
American Technion Society. (2013, November 7). Improved decoding of DNA for custom medical treatments. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107162058.htm
American Technion Society. "Improved decoding of DNA for custom medical treatments." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131107162058.htm (accessed April 20, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Nine-Month-Old Baby Can't Open His Mouth

Newsy (Apr. 19, 2014) Nine-month-old Wyatt Scott was born with a rare disorder called congenital trismus, which prevents him from opening his mouth. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

'Holy Grail' Of Weight Loss? New Find Could Be It

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) In a potential breakthrough for future obesity treatments, scientists have used MRI scans to pinpoint brown fat in a living adult for the first time. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Little Progress Made In Fighting Food Poisoning, CDC Says

Newsy (Apr. 18, 2014) A new report shows rates of two foodborne infections increased in the U.S. in recent years, while salmonella actually dropped 9 percent. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Scientists Create Stem Cells From Adult Skin Cells

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) The breakthrough could mean a cure for some serious diseases and even the possibility of human cloning, but it's all still a way off. 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:
from the past week

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