DNA Gene

Gene Sequencing Tantalizingly

More and faster and better technology for mapping genes opens up new opportunities in biology and medicine.

Gene sequencing is another word on the mapping of genes. The machines that make this survey possible, during the last decade evolved with furious speed.

It houses one of a new, expensive machine that belongs to it as some called third-generation gene sequencing machines.

What is certain is that this generation will not be the last.

- We are pretty early in technology development, says Kjetill S. Jakobsen, biology professor at the University and one of two leaders at the center.


In the background is the new purchase, a so-called single molecule sequencing machine branded Pacific Biosciences RS, trying to chew through the genome of a bacteria-eating virus.

The new machine can provide data about long strings of DNA. Previous generation gave only short DNA sequences that must be glued together to get a picture of an entire genome.

Genome is another word on the total genetic material of a human or other organism. A genome is all of us - including the virus that is now getting their innermost secrets revealed.

Where another generation to read 400 bases can read the new purchase 20,000 bases or more. Bases are the building blocks of DNA molecule.

Early diagnosis

Within medical research, the new technology, for example, be used to sequence the entire issues of the HIV virus, said Professor Dag Erik Undlien the Department of Clinical Medicine.

Undlien is the second of the two leaders at the NSC.

Faster computers can also make it easier to contribute directly to patient care. For example, in children with rare genetic diseases.

- Many have often through very extensive diagnostics, such as spinal cord samples. Genetics has often come in very late. Let's see if we can get into an earlier time.

More fishing

For biologists, the potential is great. They can, for example, understand more of what regulates which genes turn on and off by mapping several parts of the genetic material in humans and animals.

They can also get closer to evolution. When researchers last year charted the cod's genetic material gave a lot of surprises - for example, that cod has a unique immune system. A survey of cod near and distant relatives can tell more about how and why the cod have developed such immunity.

Gene sequencing may also revolutionize the good old fieldwork. Traces of genes in soil samples can talk about diversity, not only today but also in the past.

Easily irritable
Gene sequencing equipment is not something you can buy at the Clas Ohlson just yet. Various competing technologies in use. It may be that it goes against one common method.

But it could also be that different technologies can fill different needs and therefore live side by side.

The last new purchase Centre sequencing costs eight million kroner, plus the necessary infrastructure.

It is also demanding - requiring cooling and power supply that ensures constant voltage - and easily irritable. At the start spitting it out 30 percent of the samples, which resulted from a tray that was not perfectly level after installation.


Senior Robert Lyle at University illustrated in a speech at the opening of the new lab, how fast it all develops.

Machine in 2000 were used to create the first draft of human genome is long outdated. It would use 120 years to generate an amount of data equivalent to a human genome if it were alone. So were needed an entire hall with machines to get the job done.

Today, one of the latest machines, called Illumina HiSeq 2000, producing an equivalent amount of data in one hour.

But it does not end there, and now many breath and waiting for new technology developed by the British company Oxford Nanopore. This technology may be about to revolutionize gene sequencing again.

The UK has announced that during the year will have a developed a technology for gene sequencing that can be made as small as a well-built stick for the PC.

This should be placed in the USB port and is operated from a regular computer.

- This will make the technology will be available to many more laboratories.

If successful, the company with what they have announced, gene sequencing in a sense be democratized, he said.

- Does not impact

Developments in gene sequencing comparable computer's childhood.

Dean Knut Fægri at the Mathematics and Science Faculty drew the lines back to Emma, ​​the first computer from IBM who came in 1958 and now stands at the Technical Museum.

- At that time, we were faced with a technological development that you could not see the consequences of; he pointed out.

Emma, ​​who was an IBM 650 computers, was a revolution in the 1950s and was, according to the museum's website in the newspapers at the time referred to as a prodigy who could make a "pure miracle calculations." It was big and heavy and could do 60 multiplications per second.

54 years after, we can conclude that a normal PC today is 50 000 times faster than Emma. For Fægri it is tempting to compare gene sequencing today with computer technology in 1950 - and 1960s.

- We do not know where it will take us, he said.

Sequencing Centre hold partially house at the Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES) and partly at the Department of Medical Genetics.