How a DNA sequencing machine uses computer technology to make testing fast
California-based Ion Torrent’s DNA machine uses chemistry and semiconductor technology to deliver fast results. Researchers can run samples, go for a coffee break and come back a few hours later. SmartPlanet’s Boonsri Dickinson visits Ion Torrent to find out how its portable DNA machine could impact genetic testing.
When there is a question...
>> San Francisco based Ion Torrent, is developing a personal genome machine that can read people's DNA. With me is Maneesh Jane assumed spelling, a VP with the company. Maneesh, thanks for joining me today.
>> Thank you, it's a pleasure.
>> So this is a DNA sequencing machine. Can you tell me how it works?
>> Yes, absolutely. So this machine is very different from anything that's been developed in the the past. For one thing it does not use light. So this is the first time that we are able to sequence DNA electronically, just by using basic electronics. So one of the advantages here is we combine consumer electronics, a semiconductor chip shown here which is on inaudible sequence DNA, together with the simplest chemistry which is inaudible which is how DNA is copied in our own bodies. The operation is really straightforward. We wanted to have a very simple user interface so every user could use this technology on screen and very simply, so you start with a DNA sample, from a tissue, or blood, and you amplify it up, and then you load it onto the chip. So you inaudible and then you load it onto the semiconductor chip. And then this chip is simply inserted into the instrument. So the instrument itself has no moving parts, just a lever here. You put in the chip, it makes an electrical connection, and then you lower this module, which makes the fluid connection and that is to flow the natural inaudible on the instrument over the surface of the chip so we can do DNA sequencing in real time. The interface is pretty simple once you start the run you have onscreen menu which allows - which guides you through a set up and graphic interface so you can very easily do the runs. And then you can monitor the runs through the iTouch. And that is wonderful because you don't have to be tied to the instrument. You can be out a cafe and be monitoring how the run goes. And that allows us to do sequencing very simply and rapidly.
>> So, you can tell me how this machine would change genetic testing?
>> Yes, absolutely. We think this has the potential to transform genetic testing because it's a very simple bench top instrument and it runs very fast. So for a researcher, that means you can get experiments done very quickly and that means you can publish results faster. For a clinician it means you can get results to patients much faster. So ultimately it's been about the ease of use and the speed of sequencing, and we feel that we've tried to address both of those for the community.
>> Maneesh, thanks for joining me today.
>> You're very welcome, thank you.
>> For Smart Planet, I'm Boonsri Dickinson.
==== Transcribed by Automatic Sync Technologies ====