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Physical approaches to DNA sequencing and detection

  • Zwolak, Michael
  • Di Ventra, Massimiliano
Published Article
Publication Date
Aug 20, 2007
Submission Date
Aug 20, 2007
DOI: 10.1103/RevModPhys.80.141
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With the continued improvement of sequencing technologies, the prospect of genome-based medicine is now at the forefront of scientific research. To realize this potential, however, we need a revolutionary sequencing method for the cost-effective and rapid interrogation of individual genomes. This capability is likely to be provided by a physical approach to probing DNA at the single nucleotide level. This is in sharp contrast to current techniques and instruments which probe, through chemical elongation, electrophoresis, and optical detection, length differences and terminating bases of strands of DNA. In this Colloquium we review several physical approaches to DNA detection that have the potential to deliver fast and low-cost sequencing. Center-fold to these approaches is the concept of nanochannels or nanopores which allow for the spatial confinement of DNA molecules. In addition to their possible impact in medicine and biology, the methods offer ideal test beds to study open scientific issues and challenges in the relatively unexplored area at the interface between solids, liquids, and biomolecules at the nanometer length scale. We emphasize the physics behind these methods and ideas, critically describe their advantages and drawbacks, and discuss future research opportunities in this field.

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