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Wednesday, 7 September 2016

First DNA Sequencing in Space!

Biomolecule Sequencer Experiment meets the very first DNA sequencing in microgravity which was performed by NASA astronaut Kate Rubins recently at International Space Station.

DNA is the code of instructions consisting of four bases Adenine (A), Guanine (G), Cytosine (C) and Thymine (T). They rearrange themselves among different organisms in an order or sequence which helps to identify specific organism. This new research provided insight that DNA sequencing is possible in orbiting spacecraft. This technology would be very useful for astronauts to diagnose illness and also to investigate invisible life forms beyond Earth.

During this Biomolecule Sequencer Experiment investigators tested on sent samples of mouse, bacteria and virus DNA in space station on a device called MinION, developed by Oxford Nanopore Technologies. Inside MinION a positive current passes through pores embedded on membranes and the sample DNA particularly block these pores and change the current in unique way. This provides a definite pattern to read the sequence of DNA.

Rubins is a molecular biologist in NASA conducted this test outside Earth breaking the law of sequencing can be done only on ground. The technology demonstration actually seeks to validate whether the device is durable to withstand high vibration during launch of spacecraft and also whether can work in microgravity environment. Additionally they also tried to seek any possible DNA changes been seen due to change in environment.

"A next step is to test the entire process in space, including sample preparation as well as performing the sequencing," said NASA's microbiologist Sarah Castro-Wallace.

"Welcome to systems biology in space," said Rubins after the first few DNA molecules had been sequenced successfully. She went on to thank the ground team for their efforts. "It is very exciting to be with you guys together at the dawn of genomics biology and systems biology in space."

Source: Space Ref

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