Thursday, June 21, 2012

University of Utah chemists developing new way to identify DNA damage

University of Utah chemists are refining a method for combing a person’s genome in search of DNA damage that leads to mutations and disease. Professors Henry White and Cythnia Burrows are building on the  so-called nanopore technique of sequencing DNA in which strands of genetic material are passed through a moleculesized path, a protein known as a "nanopore."

"My interest in not just sequencing the A, T, C and G [letters corresponding to the basic molecules of DNA] but changes that happen on those bases from mutations," said Burrows. "A certain amount is OK because it gets fixed. That damage is ultimately where disease is caused, especially age-related diseases like cancer."

White, who chairs the U. chemistry department, and Burrows describe their method in a string of recent studies, including one published this week in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Strands of DNA are made of "nucleotide bases," the building blocks of nucleic acids. Some stretches of DNA strands are genes, which serve as codes that are translated into proteins. Salt Lake Tribune