Found: Faster, cheaper way of identifying genes that affect our health

September 15th, 2008 - 10:54 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 15 (IANS) Using bar-codes, researchers have devised a faster, cheaper way of identifying genes that might affect human health.Now portions of the nearly three-billion-base human genetic code can be indexed, to help scientists zero in on areas most likely to show variations in genetic traits.

David Craig, associate director of Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), said the new method should cost only a tenth or less of the existing methods of gene sequencing.

“Our goal is to find the genetic basis of disease,” said Craig, the study’s co-author. “It (the new method) provides us a way to immediately use next-generation sequencing technology for studying hundreds to thousands of individuals.”

John Pearson, who heads TGen’s Bioinformatics Research Unit, said the new method would enable scientists globally to more easily tune their sequencing experiments, and also speed them up.

“In many cases, rather than sequencing the whole genome for 10 people, researchers would rather sequence a dozen genes for 1,000 people,” said Pearson, who contributed to the study.

TGen scientists adapted an exciting new technology known as “next generation sequencing” to allow samples to be run and analysed using 15 well-characterised indices.

“Moving forward, TGen scientists are now attempting to merge this indexing approach with sequence-capture methods currently under development in their laboratories, which would likely further improve the cost savings and speed,” said Matthew Huentelman, an investigator in TGen’s Neurogenomics Division, also a co-author.

The findings were published in the Sunday online version in Nature Methods.

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