Highlight: Rowland Institute

Next-gen Genetic Analysis

A team from the Rowland Institute at Harvard has discovered a next-generation approach for genetic analysis.

It turns out that DNA molecules possess a particular mechanical property that can be used to detect genetic variations in cells.

By literally touching and feeling the stiffness of millions of molecules one-by-one, lead researchers Ozgur Sahin, Primary Investigator and Junior Fellow, and Sudhir Husale, postdoctoral fellow, were able to find the genetic fingerprints of tumors at a level of sensitivity well beyond current approaches.

The team’s nanomechanical detection method practically eliminates the need for cumbersome biochemical reactions used in today’s technologies.

As a result, scientists can analyze genetic variations more simply, with higher sensitivity, and at a lower cost.

The findings were published in Nature on December 24, 2009. Sahin and Husale's collaborators included Henrik H. J. Persson, a Research Associate at the Stanford Genome Technology Center.

The Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is closely linked with a variety of multidisciplinary and innovative research institutes, centers, and initiatives. This is an ongoing series of short articles highlighting recent collaborative research.