Scientists find new way to extract diluted and contaminated DNA

Aug 10, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- University of British Columbia researchers have developed a new way to extract DNA and RNA from small or heavily contaminated samples that could help forensic investigators and molecular biologists get to “the truth.”

“By exploiting the physical traits of - electric charge, length and flexibility - we’ve been able to extract DNA from samples that would otherwise not produce enough clean DNA for analysis,” says UBC Biophysics Prof. Andre Marziali.

The technique is being commercialized through Boreal Genomics, a UBC spin-off company, and is expected to have broad applications from basic life-science research to forensic sample analysis, bio-defence and pathogen detection for food safety and clinical diagnostics.

The research team, which includes scientists from UBC and BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Science Centre, details the technique in this week’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Extracting DNA by conventional methods - which rely on the molecules’ chemical properties - has proven challenging when there are only trace amounts of DNA or when the source sample has contaminants with similar chemical traits.

“We’ve found that DNA and respond to electric fields in a way that is very different from other molecules,” says Marziali. “By exploiting this unique property, we were able to extract high quality DNA from a highly contaminated sample from the Athabasca oil sands.”

The team also successfully tested the technique on samples provided by the RCMP.

Provided by University of British Columbia

Explore further: New study offers novel insights into pathogen behavior

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Handheld DNA detector

Mar 10, 2008

A researcher at the National University at San Diego has taken a mathematical approach to a biological problem - how to design a portable DNA detector. Writing in the International Journal of Nanotechnology, he describes a math ...

DNA constraints control structure of attached macromolecules

Jun 28, 2005

A new method for manipulating macromolecules has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The technique uses double-stranded DNA to direct the behavior of other molecules. In previous ...

Taking the bite out of shark DNA

Aug 18, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Extracting shark DNA has been somewhat of a challenge in the past, with scientists having to overcome the obvious hurdles associated with carrying out biopsies on live and rather uncooperative ...

Researchers uncover process involved in DNA repair

Jun 29, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Every day people are exposed to chemical and physical agents that damage DNA. If it isn't repaired properly, this damage can lead to mutations that in some circumstances can lead to the development ...

Recommended for you

'Hairclip' protein mechanism explained

4 hours ago

Research led by the Teichmann group on the Wellcome Genome Campus has identified a fundamental mechanism for controlling protein function. Published in the journal Science, the discovery has wide-ranging implications for bi ...

Discovery in the fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria

6 hours ago

For four years, researchers at Universite catholique de Louvain have been trying to find out how bacteria can withstand antibiotics, so as to be able to attack them more effectively. These researchers now understand how one ...

Stem cells born out of indecision

6 hours ago

Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have gained new insight into embryonic stem cells and how blocking their ability to make choices explains why they stay as stem cells in culture. The results have just been published ...

User comments : 0

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.