The genetic code

If you are a science geek and wish to carry your genetic code in your pen drive, you will soon be able to do so for Rs 50,000.

What’s more, cracking the genetic code will be a matter of just a few hours and not weeks or months.

The personalised genome service, to be available in India, is based on a new semiconductor chip-based technology developed by the Life Technologies Corporation and is done using the ion proton sequencer machine.

‘Though it is primarily useful for research laboratories engaged in studies on human diseases based on genomics, individuals also sequence their genetic material which can be used to ascertain if some specific genes are present,’ Sanjiv P. Karandikar, a company official, said.

He added that for example this technology can be used in already-known genes linked to cancer.

‘By sequencing the genetic material we can find out if certain genes are present. More genes are expected to be associated with diseases in the future. So once we know the sequence of a particular individual, we can find out whether these genes are present,’ he added.

Several research institutes have shown interest in the new sequencing technology and it is also being validated for use in forensic sciences.

However, its use for personalised medicine may currently be still limited.

The genome machine has semiconductor chips with millions of microscopic wells.

The enzymes in these wells react with the genetic material releasing hydrogen. The intensity of the hydrogen released determines which of the four bases are available, and this information helps in mapping the genome.

The human genetic material is made up of four kinds of components called bases, the arrangement of which determines the gene.

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