GENOMICS/DNA SEQUENCING: Partnerships advance light-based DNA sequencing

Biophotonics technologies are being investigated in at least a couple of interesting new ways for DNA sequencing. A multidisciplinary team at the University of Southampton (Southampton, England), for instance, has received funding from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council’s (BBSRC’s) Strategic Tools and Resources Development Fund to develop a fast, low-cost method for direct optical interrogation of single DNA strands. The team, involving researchers from the Optoelectronics Research Center (ORC) and the Chemistry department, will manufacture nanoscale structures designed to optically read single DNA sequences, using the university’s new fabrication facilities. The work will build upon previous work done at the university, with contributions of material and expertise from Renishaw Diagnostics (Glasgow, Scotland).

Another collaboration, for development of a new, next-generation sequencing (NGS) system, involves LaserGen (Houston, TX) and National Instruments (NI; Austin, TX). The system will use LaserGen’s Lightning Terminators, a sequencing chemistry for reversible terminators, and NI’s graphical design software for developing control, imaging and instrumentation systems. Initial throughput specifications of the NGS system will be greater than one gigabase per day. The partners plan to complete and install it by the end of 2011 for validation testing (using the E. coli genome) at a leading genome center. System and reagent costs have not been released.

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