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DNA Barcodes That Reliably Work: A Game-Changer for Biomedical Research

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A illustration of the most common structure of DNA found in a cell, known as B-DNA.

University of Texas at Austin (UT) researchers have come up with a new method to correct errors that creep into DNA barcodes.

Credit: Richard Wheeler/Zephyris

A new method invented by University of Texas at Austin (UT) researchers can correct the errors that creep into DNA barcodes, quickly reducing their error rate from 10% to 0.5%.

Essential to this technique is selecting the correct barcodes from the start, which entails choosing a string of letters for each barcode such that even if a small error infiltrates, it will still be more like the desired barcode than any other.

The method demands jettisoning many possible strings of letters, but the team used sphere packing principles to keep this loss to a minimum.

“DNA barcodes are a part of a great deal of cutting-edge research in medicine and drug development, and to be able to improve the accuracy and efficiency of so many of these is very exciting,” said UT’s John Hawkins. “And maybe even more exciting is that now with these better barcodes, this allows us to have larger, more ambitious experiments that weren’t possible before.”

From UT News
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