‘DNA Transistor’ Could Revolutionize Genetic Tests


What: Researchers at IBM have found a way to meld biology and computing to create a new chip that could become the basis for a fast, inexpensive, personal genetic analyzer.

Why: The “DNA transistor” could make it faster and cheaper to sequence individuals’ complete genomes.  Having access to a person’s genetic code could help doctors create customized medicine and determine an individual’s predisposition to certain diseases.

How: The DNA sequencer involves drilling tiny nanometer-size holes through computer-like silicon chips, then passing DNA strands through them to read the information contained in their genetic code.

Quick fact: Such a device could reduce the cost of personalized genome analysis to under $1,000. The first complete sequencing of a human genome cost about $3 billion when it was finally completed in 2003. Stanford researcher Stephen Quake recently showed the Heliscope Single Molecule Sequencer that can sequence a human genome in about four weeks at a cost of $1 million.

Read the article on Wired here.

The official press release can be found here.

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