Rapid, Easy-to-Use DNA Amplification Method at 37°C Developed by Japanese Scientists; Application Could Advance Molecular Diagnosis & Robotics

Scientists in Japan have developed a way of amplifying DNA on a scale suitable for use in the emerging fields of DNA-based computing and molecular robotics. By enabling highly sensitive nucleic acid detection, their method could improve disease diagnostics and accelerate the development of biosensors, for example, for food and environmental applications. Researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), Abbott Japan Co., Ltd., and the University of Electro-Communications, Japan, report a way to achieve million-fold DNA amplification and targeted hybridization that works at body temperature (37°C/98.6°F). The method, named L-TEAM (Low-TEmperature AMplification), is the result of more than five years of research and offers several advantages over traditional PCR, the dominant technique used to amplify DNA segments of interest. With its easy-to-use, “one-pot” design, L-TEAM avoids the need for heating and cooling steps and specialized equipment usually associated with PCR. That means it is an efficient, inexpensive method that can importantly prevent protein denaturation, thereby opening a new route to real-time analysis of living cells. In their study published in the June 21, 2019 issue of Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry, the researchers introduced synthetic molecules called locked nucleic acids (LNAs) into the DNA strands, as these molecules are known to help achieve greater stability during hybridization. The article is titled “Leak-Free Million-Fold DNA Amplification with Locked Nucleic Acid and Targeted Hybridization In One Pot.” The addition of LNA led to an unexpected, but beneficial, outcome.
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