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Tiny DNA ‘machine’ could cut HIV diagnosis cost

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New York: Researchers have designed and synthesised a nanometer-scale DNA “machine” that can make the process of detecting the antibodies that can help with the diagnosis of infectious and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and HIV much cheaper.

Their new approach promises to support the development of rapid, low-cost antibody detection at the point-of-care, thereby eliminating the treatment initiation delays.

“One of the advantages of our approach is that it is highly versatile,” said senior co-author of the study Francesco Ricci from University of Rome Tor Vergata in Italy.

“This DNA nanomachine can be in fact custom-modified so that it can detect a huge range of antibodies, this makes our platform adaptable for many different diseases,” Ricci said.

The binding of the antibody to the DNA machine causes a structural change (or switch), which generates a light signal.

The sensor does not need to be chemically activated and is rapid – acting within five minutes – enabling the targeted antibodies to be easily detected, even in complex clinical samples such as blood serum.

“Our modular platform provides significant advantages over existing methods for the detection of antibodies,” professor Alexis Vallee-Belisle from University of Montreal in Canada noted.

“It is rapid, does not require reagent chemicals, and may prove to be useful in a range of different applications such as point-of-care diagnostics and bioimaging,” Vallee-Belisle said.

“Another nice feature of our this platform is its low-cost,” professor Kevin Plaxco of the University of California, Santa Barbara, US, pointed out.

“The materials needed for one assay cost about 15 cents, making our approach very competitive in comparison with other quantitative approaches,” Plaxco said.

The findings were detailed in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

 

(IANS)

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Scientists Unveil a Tool That Can Predict Eye, Hair and Skin Color From DNA Sample

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Genes are a part of DNA/RNA.
Genes- A segment of DNA. Pixabay

Researchers have developed a novel web tool that can accurately predict eye, hair and skin color from even a small DNA sample, an advance that can be used when standard forensic profiling is not helpful.

The “HIrisPlex-S DNA test” system is capable of generating all three pigment traits from human biological material together using a freely available web tool.

The tool is designed to be used when standard forensic DNA profiling is not helpful because no reference DNA exists against which to compare the evidence sample.

The study, conducted on mice, found that genetic variations in the genes that codes for protein POU6F2 may affect the structure of the eye and increase a person's risk of glaucoma. Pixabay
Eye, representational image. pixabay

“We have previously provided law enforcement and anthropologists with DNA tools for eye colour and for combined eye and hair colour, but skin colour has been more difficult,” said Susan Walsh, forensic geneticist at the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis in the US.

Users, such as law enforcement officials or anthropologists, can enter relevant data using a laboratory DNA analysis tool, and the web tool will predict the pigment profile of the DNA donor.

“Importantly, we are directly predicting actual skin colour divided into five subtypes — very pale, pale, intermediate, dark and dark to black — using DNA markers from the genes that determine an individual’s skin coloration.

"This study provided evidence that fasting induces a metabolic switch in the intestinal stem cells, from utilizing carbohydrates to burning fat," said David Sabatini, an MIT professor of biology and the paper's another senior author.
DNA, Pixabay

“If anyone asks an eyewitness what they saw, the majority of time they mention hair colour and skin colour. What we are doing is using genetics to take an objective look at what they saw,” Walsh said.

Also Read: This DNA Test Can Screen Your Baby For 193 Genetic Diseases

The results are published in the journal, Forensic Science International: Genetics.

The innovative high-probability and high-accuracy complete pigmentation profile web tool is available online without charge, the researchers said. (IANS)

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