Akeson's biomolecular engineering lab is one of eight recipients of the Advanced Sequencing Technology Award this year, a federally funded program which has granted more than
The program, now in its final year, set out to reduce the cost of genome sequencing from
Several companies now offer
One way to address quality is with nanopore sequencing, which Akeson's lab studies, that uses tiny membrane holes the size of a single DNA strand and voltage readings to identify DNA sequences.
Compared to conventional sequencing methods that use lasers and microscopes, nanopore technology is not only less expensive and more portable, but also delivers more accuracy, since the membrane touches the DNA sequence directly, Schloss said.
Akeson's lab was awarded a
Now that his lab has shown that enzymes could sense DNA sequences traveling through a membrane pore, Akeson said his research is now directed toward improving accuracy using repeated readings. He is also studying how to use nanopores to understand epigenetics, or how DNA is modified after replication, a process that determines the cell's fate.
A possible outcome, said Akeson, is a highly accurate, pocket-sized device that could read DNA sequences in hospitals or even groceries and restaurants.
"It could be in all sorts of locations where you'd want to know if a bacterium is present, or if an individual has a certain point mutation in their DNA, or DNA in their bloodstream from a cancer and you'd like to know that at the point of care," Akeson said.
Akeson said he's grateful to the taxpayers for their support and works hard to give back. Collaborating with fellow UCSC genome researchers
"Our group is very excited about using this technology as part of the genome institute that's being forged, and in my opinion this is one of the great new ventures of UC Santa Cruz," he said.
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