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Scientists Use Pocket-size Device to Map Human Genetic Code

The MinION works by detecting the change in current flow as single molecules of DNA pass through a nanopore

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Scientists have found a way of mapping out human DNA.
Scientists have found a way of mapping out human DNA.
  • Scientists have found out technology that can map human genetics
  • This will be done with a DNA sequencer
  • This technology can bring a revolution in the field of study of genetics

Scientists have assembled the most complete human genome to be mapped with a single technology using a new pocket-size portable DNA sequencer, which they say could one day make genome mapping quick and simple enough to do at home.

“If you imagine the process of assembling a genome … is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, the ability to produce extremely long sequencing reads is like finding very large pieces of the puzzle, which makes the process far less complex,” said Nick Loman, a professor at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Microbiology and Infection who co-led the work.

This discovery in the field of genetics can bring revolution. VOA
This discovery in the field of genetics can bring revolution. VOA

Understanding and interpreting the human genome is a cornerstone of modern medicine, offering a wealth of information about a person’s inherited genetics risks, the antibodies they have, or how their diseases — such as cancer — have developed.

The first mapping of the human genome — essentially a person’s genetic recipe — was completed in 2003. It cost government-funded scientists $3 billion and 13 years of work.

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‘Landmark for genomics’

Loman said the mini-sequencer may soon allow genome mapping to become a routine part of medical care.

“At the moment, sequencing is quite laborious and occurs in expensively equipped laboratories,” he said. “But in future, we can imagine sequencing using pocket-size devices in [doctors’] surgeries, in clinics and even in people’s own homes.”

DNA sequencing is an expensive process which is expected to become cheaper in future. Wikimedia Commons
DNA sequencing is an expensive process which is expected to become cheaper in future. Wikimedia Commons

The MinION works by detecting the change in current flow as single molecules of DNA pass through a nanopore — or tiny hole — in a membrane. Mapping a human genome with this device costs around $1,000.

“This is a landmark for genomics,” said Matt Loose of the University of Nottingham, who worked with Loman. “The long reads that are possible with nanopore sequencing will provide us with a much clearer picture of the overall structure and organization of the genome than ever before.” VOA

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Study Reveals Poor Sleep Linked to Genetics

They also found that Restless Leg Syndrome is linked to poorer sleep from the genetic variants associated with sleep measures derived from the accelerometer data

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Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

Suffering from sleep disorder? Blame genetics. A new study has found several parts of our genetic code that could be responsible for poor sleep.

Researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the University of Exeter identified as many as 47 links between our genetic code and the quality and quantity of sleep.

Among the genomic regions discovered is a gene called PDE11A. The team found that an uncommon variant of this gene affects not only how long one sleeps but also the quality of sleep.

“This study identifies genetic variants influencing sleep traits, and will provide new insights into the molecular role of sleep in humans,” said lead author Samuel Jones from the University of Exeter.

Sleep deprivation can hurt performance and health. Wikimedia commons

“Changes in sleep quality, quantity and timing are linked to several human diseases such as diabetes and obesity, and psychiatric disorders,” added Andrew Wood from the varsity.

The study, published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers looked at data from 85,670 participants of UK Biobank and 5,819 individuals from three other studies, who wore accelerometers-wrist-worn devices, which record activity levels continuously.

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They found that collectively, the genetic regions linked to sleep quality are also linked to the production of serotonin-a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness and wellbeing. Serotonin is known to play a key role in sleep cycles and is theorised to help promote deeper and more restful sleep.

They also found that Restless Leg Syndrome is linked to poorer sleep from the genetic variants associated with sleep measures derived from the accelerometer data. (IANS)