DNA machine developed which could cure HIV

first_imgAn Oxford firm has developed two machines that can sequence the human genome in just hours.One of the machines, called the MinION, is the size of a USB drive and the firm hopes that it will change the face of DNA sequencing and make it “universally accessible” by vastly reducing the time it takes to sequence DNA. The other, known as the GridION, is the size of a DVD-player and can stack onto itself, linking the devices to increase computation speed. Current machines, which are mainframe-sized, take days to decode the genome. The technology has a large range of potential applications, and may assist in helping to treat diseases such as malaria and HIV by sequencing their rapidly mutating DNA. It could also help in preventing genetic defects through prenatal screening, as well as preventing genetic mutations in plants. The firm also expects the technology to find uses in agriculture. The technology has been developed under wraps over the past three years, in collusion with scientists at Harvard, Oxford and the University of California Santa Cruz, and was revealed at a press conference in Florida on Friday 17th. The CEO of Oxford Nanopore, Dr Gordon Sanghera, explained that ‘The exquisite science behind nanopore sensing has taken nearly two decades to reach this point; a truly disruptive single molecule analysis technique, designed alongside new electronics to be a universal sequencing system.  GridION and MinION are poised to deliver a completely new range of benefits to researchers and clinicians.’The firm has developed a new technique, known as ‘strand sequencing’, which is markedly different to that which came before, exonuclease sequencing. In strand sequencing  an entire string of DNA is threaded through a hole created in a cell membrane by an engineered protein, known as a nanopore, allowing the DNA to be continuously read. Previously, the sections of DNA were separated by an enzyme and dropped in fragments through the hole. Many students expressed excitement and admiration, with Sophie Avery, a third year physiologist at Balliol, saying “This device is especially exciting because of the speed at which it can resolve the genome. Clinically, there are a number of situations where time is of the essence – for example in prenatal testing where genetic defects need to be identified in time for termination of the pregnancy to be an option. The low cost is also very attractive – meaning more and more clinics could be using this kind of technology”. Raphael Chow, a second year biochemist, was equally positive, “I think that Oxford Nanopore’s novel DNA sequencing devices are absolutely mind-blowing. I was definitely very excited to find out that what scientists had been aiming to achieve – to make genome sequencing more ubiquitous by lowering the cost and sequencing time – culminated in such an awesome piece of technology. As a student, the brilliant academic and entrepreneurial minds behind the project will serve as a great source of inspiration for years to come”. Other students also expressed their delight and amazement, with David Ding, a biochemist at Univ, explaining “this helps a lot especially in research, but also allows for personalised medicine (ie. certain cancer therapies can be adjusted according to certain mutations, leading to much more effective chemotherapies)”.An Oxford firm has developed two machines that can sequence the human genome in just hours.One of the machines, called the MinION, is the size of a USB drive and the firm hopes that it will change the face of DNA sequencing and make it “universally accessible” by vastly reducing the time it takes to sequence DNA. The other, known as the GridION, is the size of a DVD-player and can stack onto itself, linking the devices to increase computation speed.Current machines, which are mainframe-sized, take days to decode the genome. The technology has a large range of potential applications, and may assist in helping to treat diseases such as malaria and HIV by sequencing their rapidly mutating DNA. It could also help in preventing genetic defects through prenatal screening, as well as preventing genetic mutations in plants.The firm also expects the technology to find uses in agriculture. The technology has been developed under wraps over the past three years, in collusion with scientists at Harvard, Oxford and the University of California Santa Cruz, and was revealed at a press conference in Florida on Friday 17th.The CEO of Oxford Nanopore, Dr Gordon Sanghera, explained that ‘The exquisite science behind nanopore sensing has taken nearly two decades to reach this point; a truly disruptive single molecule analysis technique, designed alongside new electronics to be a universal sequencing system. GridION and MinION are poised to deliver a completely new range of benefits to researchers and clinicians.’The firm has developed a new technique, known as ‘strand sequencing’, which is markedly different to that which came before, exonuclease sequencing. In strand sequencing  an entire string of DNA is threaded through a hole created in a cell membrane by an engineered protein, known as a nanopore, allowing the DNA to be continuously read. Previously, the sections of DNA were separated by an enzyme and dropped in fragments through the hole.Many students expressed excitement and admiration, with Sophie Avery, a third year physiologist at Balliol, saying “This device is especially exciting because of the speed at which it can resolve the genome. Clinically, there are a number of situations where time is of the essence – for example in prenatal testing where genetic defects need to be identified in time for termination of the pregnancy to be an option. The low cost is also very attractive – meaning more and more clinics could be using this kind of technology”. Raphael Chow, a second year biochemist, was equally positive, “I think that Oxford Nanopore’s novel DNA sequencing devices are absolutely mind-blowing. I was definitely very excited to find out that what scientists had been aiming to achieve – to make genome sequencing more ubiquitous by lowering the cost and sequencing time – culminated in such an awesome piece of technology. As a student, the brilliant academic and entrepreneurial minds behind the project will serve as a great source of inspiration for years to come”.Other students also expressed their delight and amazement, with David Ding, a biochemist at Univ, explaining “this helps a lot especially in research, but also allows for personalised medicine (ie. certain cancer therapies can be adjusted according to certain mutations, leading to much more effective chemotherapies)”.last_img

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