A new method of single molecule DNA sequencing is being developed by scientists at the University of Southampton with funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council's Strategic Tools and Resources Development Fund.
The aim of the research is to create novel devices for the direct optical interrogation of single DNA strands.
The human genome contains 3164.7 million nucleic acid bases (adenine, guanine, cytosine, thymine). The DNA sequence provides information about ancestry, hereditary disease, features (such as eye, skin or hair colour) and physiological 'make-up'.
Dr Tracy Melvin from the University of Southampton's Optoelectronics Research Centre (ORC) explains: "In order to improve our understanding of genome sequences it is desirable to have simpler DNA sequencing methods. By optically 'reading' DNA directly, we hope to eliminate the complex biochemical processes currently used so that genomes can be sequenced much faster and more cheaply."
Using the new state-of-the-art fabrication facilities in the University's Mountbatten building, the multidisciplinary team from the ORC and the Chemistry department will fabricate nanoscale structures which will be used optically to 'read' the single DNA strand sequence.
This study will provide the first step for a new single molecule DNA sequencing method that builds upon existing expertise at the University of Southampton and will involve collaboration with Renishaw Diagnostics, which is providing material and expertise.