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Posted: October 12, 2009
IBM Awarded National Institutes of Health Funding to Advance Genome Sequencing Technology
(Nanowerk News) IBM Research today announced it has received an "Advanced Sequencing Technology Award" from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, to design a silicon-based "DNA Transistor" that will advance genome sequencing technology and generate progress in health care diagnosis and practice.
As part of the "Revolutionary Genome Sequencing Technologies - The $1000 Genome", NHGRI selected the development of technologies aimed to sequence mammalian genomes for $1,000 or less. NHGRI leadership believes that inexpensive genomic sequencing will revolutionize health and medicine.
The grant will help further a team of IBM scientist's pursuit of a technique that threads a long DNA molecule through a three nanometer wide hole, known as a nanopore, in a silicon microchip.
A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter or about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. In the IBM "DNA-transistor" technology, as a DNA molecule is passed through the nanopore, it is ratcheted one unit of DNA at a time to allow for an electrical sensor to "read" the DNA. The information gathered from the reader could be used to gain a better understanding of an individual's medical makeup to help further the pursuit of personalized health care.
"The technologies that make reading DNA fast, cheap and widely available have the potential to revolutionize bio-medical research and pave the way to personalized medicine," said IBM Research Scientist Gustavo Stolovitzky.
Being able to sequence human genomes for $1000 or less will enable comparative studies of variations between individuals in both sickness and health, a knowledge that has the potential to revolutionize bio-medical research and herald the era of personalized medicine by identifying patients who will gain the greatest benefit from a particular medicine, and those who are most at risk of adverse reactions.