Channel NewsAsia
Updated: 02/11/2013 22:15 | By Channel NewsAsia

S’pore scientists develop advanced way to map human DNA changes

S’pore scientists develop advanced way to map human DNA changes


S’pore scientists develop advanced way to map human DNA changes

SINGAPORE: Singapore scientists have discovered a way to map chemical changes that occur in the human DNA using 100 times fewer cells than was previously possible.

The Genome Institute of Singapore describes this as an "extremely important advancement".

That’s because the regulation of any changes to cells in the body is essential for normal growth and health.

Any abnormality in the cells could be the cause of diseases such as cancers.

Conventional methods of studying changes to the DNA require large quantities of cells — about one million to 10 million cells.

This makes it difficult to study rare cell populations of the body.

The new method allows scientists to map changes in the DNA using very small populations of cells.

Principal investigator Dr Shyam Prabhakar said: "It’s akin to having a more powerful microscope that provides a more fine—grained view of critical biological processes.

"We are very excited about using this new technique to peer into the inner workings of tiny groups of cells that have a massive impact on human health. For example, tumours in cancer patients are known to be heterogeneous at the fine scale — some sub—regions are relatively benign, while others are lethal.

"The new protocol will help us characterize this fine—scale variation, and hopefully lead to more precise treatments for cancer and a host of other diseases."

The Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) is an institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

— CNA/ir

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