Lab-on-chip analyses single molecules of DNA

12 April 2011

The Micro- and Nano- engineering Unit at CIC microGUNE in Spain has developed a lab-on-chip device that can analyse the sequence of single strands of DNA. It could greatly simplify gene sequencing

This technique, known as DNA stretching, consists of passing single molecules of DNA through a 50 nanometre sealed channel. These are manufactured using nanoprinting lithography.

DNA chip construction
Lab-on-chip construction technique

DNA stretching in the channels  DNA chip
DNA stretching in channels   DNA chip 

This novel technology could become a simpler and more effective alternative to current methods of analysing DNA. Applications range from determining the predisposition for suffering certain illnesses, diagnosing them or establishing the best therapy once its development is known. The method will also enable other applications, such as the identification of bacteria and viruses, carrying out forensic diagnoses or providing systems for the advancement of therapies for chronic diseases.

“This technology enables determining DNA sequences, detecting genetic alterations that determine specific genes associated with the early detection of illnesses”, explained Mr Santos Merino, researcher at CIC microGUNE.

This same detection can predict the susceptibility of certain populations of individuals to certain medication (what is known as pharmacogenetics). The design of these kinds of chips will provide fast, cheap and in-situ (health centre walk-in or out-patient) detection.


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