Scientists from International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE:IBM) have developed a “lab-on-a-chip” technology that can be used to stretch double-stranded DNA molecules and reveal biomarkers may be used in detecting disease.
Then new technology is similar to the “lab-on-a-chip” nanoDLD technology also from IBM Research which is used in separating bioparticles like exosomes which have biomarkers used in detecting disease. The nanochannel technology makes use of an array of micropillars in the shape of diamond to stretch the DNA strand from its coiled state then pushing it through the nanochannels of the chip. This allows doctors to detect alterations in the genomic molecules of the DNA.
Scientists have established that some genetic alterations like combination of some parts of the DNA strand, unusual increase in the number of copies of some genes or the alterations in the sequence of the DNA an raise chances of contraction a disease or be at some stages of developing cancer. The main challenge is being able to detect the changes in DNA using cost effective and easy-to-use technology.
The use of the standard silicon chip technology is seen as the most affordable and easy way to detect the alterations in the DNA strand. The technology is also easy to produce in large quantities. The goal behind IBM’s technology is to combine the fluidic chip with electronics that allow for transmission of data from the chip to datacenters from where analysis can be done. The endpoint is to have a point-of-care device equipped with biochips that medical doctors can use to undertake DNA testing which is then uploaded to cloud for analysis. For instance, the technology can be applied together with cognitive tools like Watson Oncology to assist in detecting the availability of DNA alterations allowing doctors to propose specific treatments for patients with these mutations. The mission behind Watson technologies is always to use human intelligence. This enables doctors to make informed decisions.
IBM Research Program Director in charge of IBM Translational Systems Biology and Nanobiotechnology Gustavo Stolovitzky the main mission is enable doctors realize high levels of precision by doing the DNA analysis in a faster way as well as developing more automated technology.