Nanopore will make for speedy DNA sequencing

A new technique harnessing a “nanopore” to detect electrical changes as a strand of DNA is passed through it could speed up DNA sequencing more than 200 times. The system could process the human genome in hours, researchers claim, compared with the 6 months it would take in today’s best labs. The technique has been tested theoretically by US physicists using a detailed computer simulation of over 100,000 interacting atoms. The DNA-sequencing nanopore is yet to be built, but you can view the simulation, here (mpeg format). The device would work by running an electric current across a DNA strand as it is drawn through a nanopore, using electrodes built into the pore’s sides. Detecting the changes in current that correspond to the four different bases, or “letters”, that make up DNA would read off the sequence as it passed.

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