human genome

Researchers from the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute, U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute, University of Birmingham, and several other institutions around the world have taken a major step towards bringing affordable, self-contained gene sequencing technology.

The technology published in Nature Biotechnology has advanced efforts that have been a far cry from 1990 to sequence the first human genome. The project has been in the works from the last 15 years and has cost millions of dollars. But researchers have seldom found success until now. The study has showed that technology can produce the most complete human genome to date in a scalable, portable form which can accessed in homes and laboratories and is being labelled as revolution in the industry.

human genomeThe handheld device, no bigger than a smartphones, produces the most complete human genome ever assembled with a single technology in a fraction of time, which allows researchers to study long strands of DNA or RNA, which is a tough process. It reads the information in small fragments, which displays previously unseen areas giving an accuracy of 99.5%. The sequencer, approximately the size of a mobile phone, sequences the DNA by detecting the change in current flow as single molecules of DNA pass through a nanopore in a membrane. This can prove to be a great help in treating various diseases and cancers. The handheld device used in the study was developed by the company Oxford Nanopore.

It’s worth noting that employers have increasingly shown interest in using the technology, too, and may increasingly be allowed to demand workers’ DNA. The technology can prove to be a real game changer in the upcoming years.

Scientists in Shanghai, China state say, that they have created clone of primates using the same technique that was used for producing Dolly the Sheep. For those unaware of the historic experiment, Dolly was cloned in Edinburgh in 1996. It was the first time scientists had been able to clone a mammal from an adult cell. Since then a variety of researches have been conducted on cattle, pigs, frogs, mouses, rats etc. The process involves transferring DNA from the nucleus of a cell to a donated egg cell, which has had its own DNA removed. This then develops into an embryo and implanted into another mammal.

The scientists have created two identical marquees named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong- meaning the Chinese people or nation. These are the first primates to be cloned. In 1999, scientists created a rheas monkey named Tetra which created only a limited number of offsprings. The technology used to create Hua and Zhong is much more advanced than that. Now scientists reconstruct an unfertilized egg. The researchers remove the egg’s nucleus — the part of the cell that contains most of its genetic information– and replace it with the nucleus from another cell. It’s then stimulated to develop into an embryo, which is transplanted into a surrogate mother. That same cell cluster can make more genetically matched animals.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were the result of many failed attempts at cloning- a total of 79 attempts. Two other monkeys were initially cloned from a different type of cell, but failed to survive. The monkeys will act as a useful model for studying diseases including cancers. Zhong Zhong was born eight weeks ago and Hua Hua six weeks ago. The scientists say that they are growing normally and has become a success. The success rate of the experiment is still low and its inefficiency suggests more work needs to be done before they can be conducted at larger scales. The authors of this experiment say they will continue working to improve the SCNT approach. They also plan to watch how Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua develop physically and mentally.

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