Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

New System to Improve DNA Sequencing

Published: Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 09, 2013
Bookmark and Share
A sensing system developed at Cambridge is being commercialised in the UK for use in rapid, low-cost DNA sequencing.

System would make the prediction and diagnosis of disease more efficient and individualised treatment more affordable.

Dr Ulrich Keyser of the University’s Cavendish Laboratory, along with PhD student Nick Bell and other colleagues, has developed a system which combines a solid-state nanopore with a technique known as DNA origami, for use in DNA sequencing, protein sensing and other applications. The technology has been licensed for development and commercialisation to UK-based company Oxford Nanopore, which is developing portable, low-cost DNA analysis sequencing devices.

Nanopore technology has the potential to revolutionise DNA sequencing and the analysis of a range of other biological molecules, providing dramatic improvements in power, cost and speed over current methods.

A nanopore is an extremely small hole - between one and 100 nanometres in diameter – typically contained in a membrane between two chambers containing a salt solution and the molecule of interest. When the molecules pass through the nanopores, they disrupt an ionic current through the nanopore and this difference in electrical signals allows researchers to determine certain properties of those molecules.

Over the past decade, researchers have been investigating various methods of constructing nanopores in order to improve accuracy and reliability. A key part of this is the ability to finely control the shape and surface chemistry of the nanopores, which would maximise sensitivity and facilitate the identification of a wider range of molecules.

Currently, there are two main types of nanopores in use: solid state nanopores constructed by fabricating tiny holes in silicon or graphene with electron beam equipment; and biological nanopores made by inserting pore-forming proteins into a biological membrane such as a lipid bilayer.

Biological nanopores are cheap and easy to manufacture in large quantities of identical pores.  It is possible through genetic engineering to define their structure at the atomic level, varying the pores for the analysis of different target molecules. However, they are only suitable for a limited range of applications, and may be replaced over time by solid-state nanopores. At present, solid-state nanopores are difficult to manufacture and are not as sensitive as biological nanopores, as it is difficult to position specific chemical groups on the surface.

In collaboration with researchers at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Dr Keyser and his team have developed a hybrid nanopore which combines a solid-state material, such as silicon or graphene, and DNA origami - small, well-controlled shapes made of DNA.

“The DNA origami structures can be formed into any shape, allowing highly accurate control of the size and shape of the pore, so that only molecules of a certain shape can pass through,” says Dr Keyser. “This level of control allows for far more detailed analysis of the molecule, which is particularly important for applications such as phenotyping or gene sequencing.”

Since complementary sequences of DNA can bind to one another, the origami structures can be customised so that functional groups, fluorescent compounds and other molecular adapters can be added to the DNA strands with sub-nanometre precision, improving sensitivity and reliability. Additionally, hundreds of billions of self-assembling origami structures can be produced at the same time, with yields of up to 90 per cent.

Recent research by the team, published in the journal Lab on a Chip, has shown that up to 16 measurements can be taken simultaneously, allowing for much higher data throughput and screening of different DNA origami structures.

Further Information
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 2,800+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,000+ 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 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

Ancient Genome from Africa Sequenced for the First Time
DNA from 4,500-year-old Ethiopian skull reveals a huge migratory wave of West Eurasians into the Horn of Africa around 3,000 years ago had a genetic impact on modern populations right across the African continent.
Monday, October 19, 2015
Greater Understanding Of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
A new genetic study of over 200,000 women reveals the underlying mechanisms of polycystic ovary syndrome, as well as potential interventions.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
Maintaining Healthy DNA Delays Menopause
An international study of nearly 70,000 women has identified more than forty regions of the human genome that are involved in governing at what age a woman goes through menopause.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
New Consortium to Develop and Study Early Stage Drugs
An innovative new Consortium will act as a ‘match-making’ service between pharmaceutical companies and researchers in Cambridge with the aim of developing and studying precision medicines for some of the most globally devastating diseases.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
Expression of Certain Genes Changes with the Seasons
As the seasons change, so do the expression levels of many human genes, including ones involved in immune function, according to new research.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Gene Discovery Provides Clues To How TB May Evade The Immune System
The largest genetic study of TB susceptibility to date has led to a potentially important new insight into how the pathogen manages to evade the immune system.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Human Genome Includes 'Foreign' Genes Not From Our Ancestors
Many animals, including humans, acquired essential ‘foreign’ genes from microorganisms co-habiting their environment in ancient times, according to research published in the open access journal Genome Biology.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Order Matters: Sequence Of Genetic Mutations Determines How Cancer Behaves
The order in which genetic mutations are acquired determines how an individual cancer behaves, according to research from the University of Cambridge, published today in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Using Genome Sequencing to Track MRSA in Under-resourced Hospitals
Whole genome sequencing of MRSA from a hospital in Asia has demonstrated patterns of transmission in a resource-limited setting, where formal screening procedures are not feasible.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Amazing Feet Of Science: Researchers Sequence The Centipede Genome
What it lacks in genes, it certainly makes up for in legs: the genome of the humble centipede has been found to have around 15,000 genes – around 7,000 fewer than a human.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Imaging The Genome
University of Cambridge study allows researchers to peer into unexplored regions of the genome and understand the role played by more than 250 genes.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Scientists Discover a Molecular ‘Switch’ in Cancers of the Testis and Ovary
Research could lead to new drugs to turn ‘switch’ off.
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
Four-Stranded ‘Quadruple Helix’ DNA Structure Proven to Exist in Human Cells
Discovery opens up possibilities for a new generation of targeted therapies for cancer.
Monday, January 21, 2013
Cambridge Scientist Appointed Inaugural Jubilee Professor of the Indian Academy of Sciences
The Indian Academy of Sciences has appointed Professor Ashok Venkitaraman from the University of Cambridge as its first Jubilee Professor in 2012.
Friday, June 29, 2012
Researcher at UPC’s Terrassa Campus Discovers Genetic Circuit that Regulates Behavior of Stem Cells
The circuit explains the fact that stem cells are always prepared to change into any type of cell.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Scientific News
Revolutionary Technologies Developed to Improve Outcomes for Lung Cancer Patients
Breath test to detect lung cancer brings oxygen directly to the wound.
Dementia Linked to Deficient DNA Repair
Mutant forms of breast cancer factor 1 (BRCA1) are associated with breast and ovarian cancers but according to new findings, in the brain the normal BRCA1 gene product may also be linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
New Gene Map Reveals Cancer’s Achilles’ Heel
Team of researchers switches off almost 18,000 genes
New Discovery Sheds Light on Disease Risk
Gaps between genes interact to influence the risk of acquiring disease.
Mathematical Model Helps Show How Zebrafish Get Their Stripes
The iconic yellow and blue stripes of zebrafish form dynamically as young fish develop and grow. A mathematical model developed by Brown University researchers helps to show how pigment cells interact to form the pattern.
Epigenome Influenced by Habitat and Lifestyle
Study on Pygmy hunter-gatherer populations and Bantu farmers in Central Africa shows that habitat and lifestyle can impact the epigenome.
Shining Light on Microbial Growth and Death Inside our Guts
Precise measurement of microbial populations in gastrointestinal tracts could be key to identifying novel therapies.
New Tech Vastly Improves CRISPR/Cas9 Accuracy
A new CRISPR/Cas9 technology developed by scientists at UMass Medical School is precise enough to surgically edit DNA at nearly any genomic location, while avoiding potentially harmful off-target changes typically seen in standard CRISPR gene editing techniques.
New Class of RNA Tumor Suppressors Identified
Two short, “housekeeping” RNA molecules block cancer growth by binding to an important cancer-associated protein called KRAS. More than a quarter of all human cancers are missing these RNAs.
Biologists Induce Flatworms to Grow Heads and Brains of Other Species
Findings shed light on role of a new kind of epigenetic signaling in evolution, could yield clues for understanding birth defects and regeneration.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
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
2,800+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,000+ scientific videos