KTH Royal Institute of Technology: World record in DNA analysis

21-Mar-2011 - Sweden

To date, scientists have been limited to running a small number of DNA samples at a time at a cost of SEK 100,000 per sample. KTH researchers have now come up with a new method which means that 5,000 samples can be run simultaneously for the same price. This cuts the cost per test result considerably and is a world record for the number of samples run in a single DNA sequence analysis.

"We had to invent a method to produce many DNA samples simultaneously. Otherwise, the analyses would have taken an incredibly long time and would have cost a huge amount of money," says Peter Savolainen, a biology researcher at KTH.

Peter and his research colleague Afshin Ahmadian and former graduate student Martin Neiman who together invented the new method, mean that both DNA sequence analyses can be carried out in record time and at an incredibly low cost.

"Today around 10 samples are produced simultaneously at a cost of SEK 10,000 per sample. We have run 5,000 samples for the same amount, i.e. SEK 100,000. This means an actual cost of SEK 20 per sample," says Peter Savolainen.

He points out several areas where he and his colleagues' new method can be of great importance. One of these is in cancer research where there is a great need to scan a lot of smear tests from many individuals. This is to see which cells and genes are involved in the cancer.

"Another area where our method can be of great significance is in organ transplantation. It requires many DNA analyses to create a database for matching organ donors with the recipient of the graft. This will have important implications for DNA research," says Peter Savolainen.

He adds that even now, before the method is official, there are several projects at the Science for Life Laboratory (which KTH forms a part) that are in line to use this way of working. Moreover, there is the possibility to scale up the method so that more tests can be run simultaneously. The method itself is quite clever.

"Simply put, we mark each sample in an ingenious manner with an ID, so that any test results can be classified," says Peter Savolainen.

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