IBM Research Aims to Build Nanoscale DNA Sequencer (w/ Video)

Oct 06, 2009
A cross section of IBM's DNA Transistor simulated on Blue Gene supercomputer showing a single stranded DNA moving in the midst of (invisible) water molecules through the nanopore. The DNA molecule, at the center of the pore, contain the bases A, C, G and T, that code of biological information necessary for life.

( -- In an effort to build a nanoscale DNA sequencer, IBM scientists are drilling nano-sized holes in computer-like chips and passing DNA strands through them in order to read the information contained within their genetic code.

This advanced research effort to demonstrate a silicon-based “DNA Transistor” could help pave the way to read human DNA easily and quickly, generating advancements in health condition diagnosis and treatment. The challenge in the effort is to slow and control the motion of the DNA through the hole so the reader can accurately decode what is in the DNA. If successful, the project could improve throughput and reduce cost to achieve the vision of personalized genome analysis at a cost of $100 to $1,000. In comparison, the first sequencing ever done by the (HGP) cost $3 billion.

Having access to an individual’s personal genetic code could advance by using genomic and molecular data to facilitate the discovery and clinical testing of new products, and help determine a person's predisposition to a particular disease or condition.

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In the Fall of 2005, IBM revised its corporate privacy and equal opportunity policies to reflect the corporation's intention to handle information about an employee's genetics with a high regard for its privacy, and also to refrain from using genetic test information to discriminate against a person in the employment context. At that time, IBM was arguably the first company in the world to restrict genetic data from being used to make employment-related decisions.

On May 21, 2008, the United States signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) that protects Americans against discrimination based on their genetic information when it comes to health insurance and employment. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and the House by a vote of 414 to 1. The long-awaited measure, which has been debated in Congress for 13 years, is helping to pave the way for people to take full advantage of the promise of personalized medicine without fear of discrimination.

Provided by IBM

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User comments : 4

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not rated yet Oct 06, 2009
Read my DNA: IBM is a dead end company. IBM is were researchers go to die.
not rated yet Oct 06, 2009
Are you retarded? IBM is one of the last companies to conduct basic research. Few companies today have the courage, the foresight, and the resources to do so, and I have no doubt that such fundamental research will pay off for them in the future. Plus, IBM puts their research to good use like making the world's most energy efficient servers; this also makes IBM one of the greenest high-tech companies out there.

PS I am not employed (student) and therefore do not get paid by IBM to support them.
not rated yet Oct 06, 2009
i think maybe he has a point. ....why are there 'information' videos in this article. the music in the video is proof they spent alot of money on it as an advertisment, what are they advertising? since when do major respected top research centers NEED to advertise themselves. word of mouth/prestige is usually how it goes, advertising prestige is an admission of weakness. you don't see jpl or general atomics advertising their research like this.. it looks like they are selling their research before they have any results, which is the kind of behavior you expect from a company with little confidence. why not just come out with a final product as fast as possible and let it speak for itself? why all the blustering?
not rated yet Oct 06, 2009
You guys seem surprised that a corporation would think it prudent to market itself?

Aside from that... how many other companies support & encourage fundamental research like this with the breadth and competence that IBM has? They should be applauded instead, not forum-trolled! Just think how many paradigm-shifting innovations have come about as a result of basic research - the recent telerome Nobel prize should serve as a good example of this.

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