A portable DNA sequencer can be used to distinguish between specific strains of bacteria and viruses in just six hours, according to a study published on GigaScience.
MinION -this is the name of the device designed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies- is the first sequencing device with nanopores product for independent use. The USB-powered sequencer contains thousands of wells, each containing nanopores, narrow canals protein capable of passing a single strand of DNA. When DNA enters the channels, each base produces a unique electronic signature that can be detected by the system which, in turn, provides a reading of the DNA sequence.
To test the applicability of the device for the detection of diseases in remote areas, the researchers of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland, Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Virginia and Signature Science used the MinION to sequence known samples of amplified DNA of the bacterium E. coli and three poxvirus.
By means of a first DNA amplification, before performing the test through the device, scientists have been able to overcome the error rate of 30% reported with MinION for the correct identification of E. Coli, although not the specific strain
The researchers found that the data of the nanopore sequencing could also be used to distinguish between cowpox, Lister and MVA strain , despite the two strains are identical to each other for 98 percent.
Our results are very important because we have, for the first time, informed the community that this technology can be incredibly useful at its current state- said study co-author Andrew Kilianski of Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in a statement.
On the other hand, however, as the authors explained, currently, the need to amplify the DNA to create a detectable sample is a big obstacle, and the method can not work on more complex samples that comprise “guest” DNA .
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