Researchers have developed a software system to accurately identify people and cell lines from their DNA in a matter of minutes.
The technology has a wide range of applications, but its most immediate use could be to flag mislabelled or contaminated cell lines in cancer experiments, according to the study published in the journal eLife. “Our method opens up new ways to use off-the-shelf technology to benefit society,” said Yaniv Erlich, from the Columbia University in the U.S.
“We’re especially excited about the potential to improve cell authentication in cancer research and potentially speed up the discovery of new treatments,” he said.
The software is designed to run on the MinION, an instrument the size of a credit card that pulls in strands of DNA through its microscopic pores and reads out sequences of nucleotides, or the DNA letters A, T, C, G.
The device has made it possible for researchers to study bacteria and viruses in the field, but its high error-rate and large sequencing gaps have, until now, limited its use on human cells with their billions of nucleotides.