• United Kingdom scientists led by Matt Loose at Nottingham University, have created a new record for decoding the world’s longest DNA sequence.
• The scientists have produced a DNA read that is nearly 10,000 times longer than normal. Also, it is two times larger than the previous record from Australia.
• The DNA used for the long read was that of a human. At present, DNA is cut into smaller pieces and then reassembled during the process of sequencing.
Making a jigsaw
• The technology that enables scientists to read runs of DNA sequences has come a long way since the millennium-era race to decode the first human genome.
• In the past 10 or so years, improvements in DNA sequencing technologies have meant that the original billion dollar human genome from 2001 can now be replicated for around $1000.
• There is an expectation that personalised DNA sequencing is not far away.
• It soon our genome decoded during a trip to the doctor’s surgery, or more controversially, our parents might have it read for us, before we are even born.
• One of the remaining stumbling blocks is to put the DNA pieces together in the correct order.
• Just as it is theoretically possible, but quite unlikely, that a chimpanzee might reproduce a work of Shakespeare with one finger typing, computer programs are unable to re-assemble genomes from short, jumbled DNA sequences.
Mains Paper 3: Science and Technology
Prelims level: Decoding DNA sequence
Mains level: Recent development in bio-technology