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Cinderella's shoe holds 500 sequencing machines

Imagine sequencing DNA with a machine you can hold in your hand - a miniaturized device that works far more quickly than current machines and uses fewer resources, too. In the September issue of Genome Research, Dieter Schmalzing, Daniel Erlich, and colleagues (Whitehead Institute) turn imagination into reality, reporting the first successful sequencing of "real world" DNA samples with a microdevice fabricated from glass wafers.

Schmalzing and colleagues set the novel goal of using a microdevice to sequence "typical" human DNA samples, as prepared for the Human Genome Project. To make the device, they chemically etched glass wafers with long, microscopically thin channels no more than a hundredth of a centimeter wide and about twelve centimeters long. Using short side channels, the researchers injected tiny "plugs" of DNA, labeled with fluorescent dyes, at one end of the channels. They then applied an electric field to the device to separate and move the DNA strands down the length of the channels, over a fluorescence detector that identified the components of the DNA. The device accurately and rapidly sequenced DNA from human chromosome 17 and demonstrates a bright future for convenient, low-cost sequencing machines. Perhaps soon we can literally put a sequencer in every pot.


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Contact: Peggy Calicchia
calicchi@cshl.org
516-367-6834
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
27-Sep-1999


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