Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Molecular & Clinical Diagnostics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Breakthrough in Detecting DNA Mutations Could Help Treat Tuberculosis and Cancer

Published: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Bookmark and Share
The slightest variation in a sequence of DNA can have profound effects.

Modern genomics has shown that just one mutation can be the difference between successfully treating a disease and having it spread rampantly throughout the body.

Now, researchers have developed a new method that can look at a specific segment of DNA and pinpoint a single mutation, which could help diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer and tuberculosis. These small changes can be the root of a disease or the reason some infectious diseases resist certain antibiotics. The findings were published online this week (July 28) in the journal Nature Chemistry.

“We’ve really improved on previous approaches because our solution doesn’t require any complicated reactions or added enzymes, it just uses DNA,” said lead author Georg Seelig, a University of Washington assistant professor of electrical engineering and of computer science and engineering. “This means that the method is robust to changes in temperature and other environmental variables, making it well-suited for diagnostic applications in low-resource settings.”

DNA is a type of nucleic acid, the biological molecule that gives all living things their unique genetic signatures. In a double strand of DNA, known as a double helix, a series of base pairs bond and encode our genetic information. As genomics research has progressed, it’s clear that a change of just one base pair – a sequence mutation, an insertion or a deletion – is enough to trigger major biological consequences. This could explain the onset of disease, or the reason some diseases don’t respond to usual antibiotic treatment.

Take, for example, tuberculosis – a disease that’s known to have drug-resistant strains. Its resistance to antibiotics often is due to a small number of mutations in a specific gene. If a person with tuberculosis isn’t responding to treatment, it’s likely because there is a mutation, Seelig said.

Now, researchers have the ability to check for that mutation preventatively.

Seelig, along with David Zhang of Rice University and Sherry Chen, a UW doctoral student in electrical engineering, designed probes that can pick out mutations in a single base pair in a target stretch of DNA. The probes allow researchers to look in much more detail for variations in long sequences – up to 200 base pairs – while current methods can detect mutations in stretches of up to only 20.

“In terms of specificity, our research suggests that we can do quadratically better, meaning that whatever the best level of specificity, our best will be that number squared,” said  Zhang, an assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice University.

The testing probes are designed to bind with a sequence of DNA that is suspected of having a mutation. The researchers do this by creating a complimentary sequence of DNA to the double-helix strand in question. Then, they allow molecules containing both sequences to mix in a test tube in salt water, where they naturally will match up to one another if the base pairs are intact. Unlike previous technologies, the probe molecule checks both strands of the target double helix for mutations rather than just one, which explains the increased specificity.

The probe is engineered to emit a fluorescent glow if there’s a perfect match between it and the target. If it doesn’t illuminate, that means the strands didn’t match and there was in fact a mutation in the target strand of DNA.

The researchers have filed a patent on the technology and are working with the UW Center for Commercialization. They hope to integrate it into a paper-based diagnostic test for diseases that could be used in parts of the world with few medical resources.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 2,900+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,200+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Mitochondrial Troublemakers Unmasked in Lupus
Drivers of autoimmune disease inflammation discovered in the traps of pathogen-capturing white blood cells.
Monday, January 25, 2016
UW to Invest $37 Million in Nanofabrication Lab
The Washington Nanofabrication Facility is being developed to support start-ups and researchers who can not afford to invest high tech nano production equipment.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Scientific News
"Gene Fusion" Drives Childhood Brain Cancers
Study co-led by Penn scientists highlights potential targets for future cancer therapies.
Head Injury Patients Develop Brain Clumps Associated with Alzheimer’s Disease
Scientists have revealed that protein clumps associated with Alzheimer's disease are also found in the brains of people who have had a head injury.
New Way to Identify Brain Tumor Aggressiveness
Looking at a brain tumor’s epigenetic signature may help guide therapy.
OncoCyte, The Wistar Institute Enter Global Licensing Agreement
Exclusive rights to commercialize biomarker assay follows years of positive collaboration on lung cancer diagnostic test.
Easier Diagnosis for Fungal Infection of the Lungs
A new clinical imaging method developed in collaboration with a University of Exeter academic may enable doctors to tackle one of the main killers of patients with weakened immune systems sooner and more effectively.
Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing
A team of biologists and biomedical researchers at UC San Diego has developed a new method to determine if bacteria are susceptible to antibiotics within a few hours, an advance that could slow the appearance of drug resistance and allow doctors to more rapidly identify the appropriate treatment for patients with life threatening bacterial infections.
Mitochondrial Troublemakers Unmasked in Lupus
Drivers of autoimmune disease inflammation discovered in the traps of pathogen-capturing white blood cells.
DNA Analysis in the Fast Lane
Rice bioengineers' method should lead to better database of thermal behaviors.
‘Simple Rules’ Calculate Ovarian Cancer Risk
Scientists have formulated a system that uses ultrasound images to accurately work out the likelihood of an ovarian growth being cancerous.
Finding the Needle in a Microbial Haystack
After developing a novel investigational technology called PathoChip that can rapidly identify elusive microorganisms, a team of Penn Medicine researchers recently succeeded for the first time in identifying a pathogen in a patient sample, demonstrating the proof of principle that this technology can be used to identify pathogens in human disease.
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
2,900+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,200+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!