Posted in | Nanomedicine

Researcher Achieves Breakthrough in DNA Analysis using Nanoparticles

Published on October 7, 2011 at 6:51 AM

By Cameron Chai

The time consuming process of performing DNA analysis has been reduced to a matter of minutes, thanks to the research headed by Donald K Roper, an associate professor of chemical engineering at the University of Arkansas.

The patented process reduces the duration of the analysis process and his achievement will greatly aid law enforcement and healthcare in forensic identification, testing and development of new vaccines as well as in diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Donald K Roper, who has been presented with the Charles W Oxford Endowed Professorship in Emerging Technologies, stated that the research aims at the development of a small device of the size of a credit card that can be used conveniently at the crime scene or a doctor’s office to analyze DNA samples and get instantaneous results.

In the traditional DNA analysis process, scientists use the polymerase chain reaction to make a tiny DNA sample large enough. Donald K Roper has devised a process, by which the reaction is 1000 X faster. The process uses gold nanoparticles, which increases the chain reaction’s efficiency. During the process, termed Roper’s process, DNA strands are subjected to cyclic heating and cooling. When heat is applied, the two strands of its double helix are separated. When the temperature is cooled down, complimentary strands are zipped together using the polymerase enzyme. Thus, with each cycle, two DNA helixes are formed. When subjected to repeated heating and cooling, the copies of DNA helixes keep doubling until it produces a sufficient amount of the DNA.

Since Roper’s method reduces the cycle time to milliseconds, the analysis process is also reduced to minutes. A laser beam directed around the DNA can allow researchers to increase or decrease the temperature quickly. Roper also added that gold nanoparticles and laser light can be used to simultaneously amplify the DNA sample and analyze it.The electromagnetic field of the nanoparticle senses the required DNA strand and the detector assays the difference in the induced field.

Source: http://www.uark.edu/

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