Researchers develop new sensor for methylated DNA

March 14, 2013

Collaborators from Mayo-Illinois Alliance for Technology Based Healthcare have developed a new, single molecule test for detecting methylated DNA. Methylation—the addition of a methyl group of molecules to a DNA strand—is one of the ways gene expression is regulated. The findings appear in the current issue of Scientific Reports.

"While nanopores have been studied for genomic sequencing and screening analysis, this new assay can potentially circumvent the need for some of the current processes in evaluating epigenetics-related diseases," says George Vasmatzis, Ph.D., co-leader of Mayo's Biomarker Discovery Program in the Center for Individualized Medicine and co-lead author on the article. He says the assay could eliminate the need for bisulfite conversion of DNA, fluorescent labeling, and (PCR).

"Next steps include increasing the spatial resolution by incorporating thinner membranes and by integrating the same preparation steps," says Rashid Bashir, Ph.D., professor of bioengineering, director of the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory, and co-lead author of the study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

A nanopore, in this case, is a very small hole in an artificial membrane, that allows only a single molecule to be located and identified. Researchers say this is useful as methylation in promoter sequences can indicate tumor development in most major types of cancer and may be a better biomarker than many genetic markers. Scientists are now able to differentiate methylated from non-methylated DNA by attaching a protein on the methylated nucleotides measuring ionic electrical current via a solid-state .

Explore further: Aluminum-oxide nanopore beats other materials for DNA analysis

Related Stories

Controlling patterns of DNA methylation

October 28, 2011

A study performed by scientists in Dirk Schübeler's team at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research in Basel identifies DNA sequences that autonomously determine DNA methylation patterns. Genomic patterns ...

Nanofluidics sorts DNA for cancer research

May 24, 2012

( -- Cornell nanotechnology researchers have devised a new tool to study epigenetic changes in DNA that can cause cancer and other diseases: a nanoscale fluidic device that sorts and collects DNA, one molecule at ...

Recommended for you

Nano-decoy lures human influenza A virus to its doom

October 25, 2016

To infect its victims, influenza A heads for the lungs, where it latches onto sialic acid on the surface of cells. So researchers created the perfect decoy: A carefully constructed spherical nanoparticle coated in sialic ...

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries

October 24, 2016

Yuan Yang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Columbia Engineering, has developed a new method to increase the energy density of lithium (Li-ion) batteries. He has built a trilayer structure that ...

Nanofiber coating prevents infections of prosthetic joints

October 24, 2016

In a proof-of-concept study with mice, scientists at The Johns Hopkins University show that a novel coating they made with antibiotic-releasing nanofibers has the potential to better prevent at least some serious bacterial ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.