NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A research team from the University of Missouri has developed a new methodology that offers the ability to detect mutations at very low frequencies using nanopores.
The approach is based on a technology the team developed called a “nanolock-nanopore” sensor, in which a structure called a nanolock causes DNA moving through a nanopore to undergo a unique type of unzipping, enabling highly sensitive detection of a specific target point mutation.
In a study published this week online in ACS Sensors, the team was able to demonstrate for the first time that its nanolock-nanopores could detect mutations in human tissue — in this case BRAF V600E mutations in thyroid cancer samples.
The researchers anticipate that the approach, once integrated with a miniature, high-throughput device, could enable accurate and PCR-free detection of various disease-causing mutations down not only to levels below 1 percent, but at a single-molecule resolution, regardless of the amount of background DNA.
Liqun Gu, the lead investigator of the project, said this week the nanolock sensor approach could aid efforts in blood-based early cancer detection, and that he and his colleagues are now seeking a grant for that work.
Unlike nanopore sequencing technologies, which are