NobleGen is a startup company that is developing a simpler and cheaper effective method of gene-sequencing technology, using nanopores genome-sequencing technology which could lead to major using of the technology to diagnose different diseases.
The new technology will shorten the period needed to finish the human genes sequencing, it also will be very cheap comparing to the used ways.
Noblegen uses optical imaging to identify the bases. This adds a step at the beginning, but the trade-off is that the instrumentation needed for imaging is much simpler. First, the Noblegen researchers convert genomic DNA into a synthetic version that’s labeled with four different fluorescent dyes, one for each type of base. Each base in the original sequence is represented by one fluorescently labeled segment in the synthetic one.
The synthetic sequences are then directly read out by Noblegen’s relatively simple instrument. It’s based on a silicon chip that’s drilled to create pores just a few nanometers in diameter; the chip is illuminated by an inexpensive laser. The long synthetic molecules, which are charged, are pulled through the hole by electrostatic forces. But they can’t move too quickly, because the fluorescent labels are too big to fit through the pore. As the DNA moves through the pore one segment at a time, the labels pop off, creating a flash of light. This light is imaged by a simple CMOS sensor.
They are trying to lessen the cost to be 1000 USD instead of the nowadays cost which average between 10,000 to 40,000 USD to sequence a human genome.
An article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS’ weekly news magazine, raises the disconcerting prospect that a price tag of $100,000, by one conservative estimate, is necessary to analyze that genetic data so it can be used in personalized medicine – custom designing treatments that fit the patient’s genetic endowment.
In the article, C&EN Senior Editor Rick Mullin explains that while the cost of sequencing genes has dropped dramatically, the cost of analyzing genomic data so that it can be put to practical use in medicine has hardly budged. Today, assessing the genetic predispositions to disease means costly data analysis by specialists from several research areas, including molecular and computational biology, genetics, pathology and clinical science.