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

Researchers at Harvard’s Wyss Institute Engineer Novel DNA Barcode

Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
Bookmark and Share
Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a new kind of barcode that could come in an almost limitless array of styles.

Much like the checkout clerk uses a machine that scans the barcodes on packages to identify what customers bought at the store, scientists use powerful microscopes and their own kinds of barcodes to help them identify various parts of a cell, or types of molecules at a disease site. But their barcodes only come in a handful of "styles," limiting the number of objects scientists can study in a cell sample at any one time.

Researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have created a new kind of barcode that could come in an almost limitless array of styles -- with the potential to enable scientists to gather vastly more vital information, at one given time, than ever before. The method harnesses the natural ability of DNA to self-assemble, as reported today in the online issue of Nature Chemistry.

"We hope this new method will provide much-needed molecular tools for using fluorescence microscopy to study complex biological problems," says Peng Yin, Wyss core faculty member and study co-author who has been instrumental in the DNA origami technology at the heart of the new method.

Fluorescence microscopy has been a tour de force in biomedical imaging for the last several decades. In short, scientists couple fluorescent elements -- the barcodes -- to molecules they know will attach to the part of the cells they wanted to investigate. Illuminating the sample triggers each kind of barcode to fluoresce at a particular wavelength of light, such as red, blue, or green -- indicating where the molecules of interest are.

However, the method is limited by the number of colors available -- three or four -- and sometimes the colors get blurry. That's where the magic of the DNA barcode comes in: colored-dots can be arranged into geometric patterns or fluorescent linear barcodes, and the combinations are almost limitless -- substantially increasing the number of distinct molecules or cells scientists can observe in a sample, and the colors are easy to distinguish.

Here's how it works: DNA origami follows the basic principles of the double helix in which the molecular bases A (adenosine) only bind to T (thymine), and C (cytosine) bases only bind to G (guanine). With those "givens" in place, a long strand of DNA is programmed to self-assemble by folding in on itself with the help of shorter strands to create predetermined forms--much like a single sheet of paper is folded to create a variety of designs in the traditional Japanese art.

To these more structurally complex DNA nano-structures, researchers can then attach fluorescent molecules to the desired spots, and use origami technology to generate a large pool of barcodes out of only a few fluorescent molecules. That could add a lot to the cellular imaging "toolbox" because it enables scientists to potentially light up more cellular structures than ever possible before.

"The intrinsic rigidity of the engineered DNA nanostructures is this method's greatest advantage; it holds the fluorescent pattern in place without the use of external forces. It also holds great promise for using the method to study cells in their native environments," Yin says. As proof of concept, the team demonstrated that one of their new barcodes successfully attached to the surface of a yeast cell.

More research beckons, particularly to determine what happens when each of the fluorescent barcodes are mixed together in a cell sample, which is routine in real-life biological and medical imaging systems--but there's plenty of good news as a starting point. It's low-cost, easy to do, and more robust compared to current methods, says Yin.

"We're moving fast in our ability to manipulate DNA molecules using origami technology," says Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D., "and the landscape of its potential is tremendous -- from helping us to develop targeted drug-delivery mechanisms to improving the scope of cellular and molecular activities we are able to observe at a disease site using the latest medical imaging techniques."


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

A Cancer’s Surprise Origins, Caught in Action
First demonstration of a melanoma arising from a single cell.
Monday, February 01, 2016
Seeing Hope
Gene therapy/drug combo restores some vision in mice with optic nerve injury.
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Cell Memory Loss Enables the Production of Stem Cells
Scientists identify a molecular key that helps maintain identity and prevents the conversion of adult cells into iPS cells.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Exposure to Pesticides In Childhood Linked to Cancer
Young children who are exposed to insecticides inside their homes may be slightly more at risk for developing leukemia or lymphoma during childhood, according to a meta-analysis by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
Delivering Hope in Ovarian Cancer
Gene therapy blocked chemoresistant tumor growth in mice.
Tuesday, August 11, 2015
The Secrets of Secretion
Researchers have hacked nature's blueprints to create a new technology that could have broad-reaching impact on drug delivery systems and self-healing and anti-fouling materials.
Tuesday, June 23, 2015
One Molecule at a Time
The ability to study single molecules provides tangible targets for personalised medicine.
Monday, May 18, 2015
Cancer Vaccine Begins Phase I Clinical Trials
Cross-disciplinary team brings novel therapeutic cancer vaccine to human clinical trials.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
A Marker for Breast Cancer
Research says it soon may be possible to gauge individual risk for disease, and eventually to treat it.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Developing Cancer Drugs
Researchers find therapeutic potential in ‘undruggable’ target.
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Scientific News
NIH Researchers Identify Striking Genomic Signature for Cancer
Institute has identified striking signature shared by five types of cancer.
CRI Develops Innovative Approach for Identifying Lung Cancer
Institute has developed innovative approach for identifying processes that fuel tumor growth in lung cancer patients.
Counting Cancer-busting Oxygen Molecules
Researchers from the Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics (CNBP), an Australian Research Centre of Excellence, have shown that nanoparticles used in combination with X-rays, are a viable method for killing cancer cells deep within the living body.
Crowdfunding the Fight Against Cancer
From budding social causes to groundbreaking businesses to the next big band, crowdfunding has helped connect countless worthy projects with like-minded people willing to support their efforts, even in small ways. But could crowdfunding help fight cancer?
Cancer Cells Kill Off Healthy Neighbours
Cancer cells create space to grow by killing off surrounding healthy cells, according to UK researchers working with fruit flies.
Cancer Drug Target Visualized at Atomic Resolution
New study using cryo-electron microscopy shows how potential drugs could inhibit cancer.
Genetic Mechanism Behind Cancer-Causing Mutations
Researchers at Indiana University has identified a genetic mechanism that is likely to drive mutations that can lead to cancer.
Future of Medicine Could be Found in a Tiny Crystal Ball
A Drexel University materials scientist has discovered a way to grow a crystal ball in a lab. Not the kind that soothsayers use to predict the future, but a microscopic version that could be used to encapsulate medication in a way that would allow it to deliver its curative payload more effectively inside the body.
"Gene Fusion" Drives Childhood Brain Cancers
Study co-led by Penn scientists highlights potential targets for future cancer therapies.
Enzyme Links Age-Related Inflammation, Cancer
Researchers have shown that an enzyme key to regulating gene expression -- and also an oncogene when mutated -- is critical for the expression of numerous inflammatory compounds that have been implicated in age-related increases in cancer and tissue degeneration.
SELECTBIO

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!