Washington, Sept 15 : Scientists may soon get a faster and less expensive way to analyse the human genome, thanks to researchers at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), who have used bar-coded multiplexed sequencing to identify the genetic variants that may affect human health.
The researchers used bar-codes to catalogue portions of the nearly three-billion-base human genetic code, which may help scientists to specifically locate the regions most likely to show variations in genetic traits.
According to Dr. David Craig, associate director of TGen's Neurogenomics Division, the new method will only cost one-tenth of the current cost of gene sequencing,
Gene sequencing is usually done to analyze Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), and in performing Genome-Wide Association (GWA) studies. "Our goal is to find the genetic basis of disease. It (the new method) provides us a way to immediately use next-generation sequencing technology for studying hundreds to thousands of individuals,'' Nature magazine quoted Craig, the study's lead author, as saying.
John Pearson, the head of TGen's Bioinformatics Research Unit, claimed that with the new method, scientists worldwide would find it easier to tune their sequencing experiments, and also conduct their experiments with greater speed.
"In many cases, rather than sequencing the whole genome for 10 people, researchers would rather sequence a dozen genes for 1,000 people,'' said Pearson, who contributed to the study.
For their study, the researchers resorted to an exciting new technology called "next generation sequencing'' to allow samples to be run and analysed using 15 well-characterized indexes.
"Moving forward, TGen scientists are now attempting to merge this indexing approach with sequence-capture methods currently under development in their laboratories, which would likely further improve the cost savings and speed,'' said Dr. Matthew Huentelman, an investigator in TGen's Neurogenomics Division, who also contributed to the study.
With the new method, scientists may push ahead key scientific research needed to prevent, diagnosis and treat a variety of diseases and conditions.
"Although whole-genome sequencing may be the primary motivator for improvements in sequencing technology, it is clear that next-generation technologies are immediately useful for focused, hypothesis-driven sequencing of linkage peaks, groupings of candidate genes or sequencing the entire known coding sequence of the human genome,'' said the study.
The findings were published in the online version of the journal Nature Methods.