Nanopore sequencing, a cost-effective DNA sequencing method, has been enhanced by researchers at Imperial College London. They’ve devised a way to use short DNA fragments as barcodes for various biomolecules, enabling nanopore sequencing to identify multiple disease biomarkers in blood samples simultaneously. This breakthrough could pave the way for personalized medicine, enabling early and precise diagnosis of diseases like cancer and heart disease.
Nanopore sequencing, which involves threading DNA through tiny nanopores, is adept at reading long DNA sequences but not other biomolecules. To overcome this limitation, the researchers created 30-nucleotide DNA barcodes linked to probe molecules that bind to specific disease biomarkers. These barcoded probes are added to a blood sample, which is then subjected to nanopore sequencing.
Machine learning algorithms were trained to identify the sequence of each unique barcode among the signals generated when multiple barcodes from different biomarkers are read together. This approach effectively “fingerprints” the contents of the sample, allowing for the detection of specific molecules of interest.
This breakthrough holds promise for advancing the field of personalized medicine by enabling more comprehensive and accurate disease diagnosis and treatment customization.