Conventional DNA sequencing systems rely on the use of labels attached to the molecules to detect the presence of nucleic acids that make up the DNA sequence. Costs in this technology are kept to a minimum by avoiding the need for expensive labelling reagents.
When the new Merlin capillary-based DNA sequencer is used in conjunction with deltaDOT's Label Free Intrinsic Imaging technology (LFII), Merlin is able to monitor unlabelled biomolecules directly, in real time.
deltaDOT's core technology, Label Free Intrinsic Imaging (LFII), allows the direct monitoring of unlabelled biomolecules in real time, resulting in faster, accurate results at a fraction of the cost of conventional approaches.
LFII uses hundreds of UV detectors to image the biomolecules as they traverse the capillary electrophoresis (CE) system.
Merlin, which is a short-read (200-300 base pairs) CE DNA sequencer, applies LFII to the separation stage of nucleic acid sequencing, eliminating the need to label the molecules. It achieves this by incorporating signal processing and data mining tools
Capable of SNP sequencing, genotyping, DNA fragment and RNA analysis in same system, Merlin is said to have enormous potential for application in forensic science laboratories, where short turnaround, inexpensive applications are common and where the top-of-the-line DNA sequencers are not as cost-effective or efficient to use.
"Having achieved the resolution necessary to resolve DNA sequence information, we have been working with an internationally renowned forensic science provider to apply Merlin to the analysis of Short Tandem Repeats (STRs)," said Stuart Hassard, co-founder and head biologist of >deltaDOT.
"STRs have become popular DNA markers because the number of repeats can be highly variable among individuals, making STRs highly effective for human identification purposes."
Merlin is the second product to be developed by deltaDOT using the company's LFIITM technology. Peregrine, which is a bench-top system, was developed by deltaDOT for the label-free analysis of DNA, proteins, bacteria, virus and small molecules.
Merlin made its debut at the Human Genome Meeting in Helsinki, Finland.