KOLKATA (TIP): In what could help predict one’s susceptibility to various ailments, a new technique to detect genetic variations associated with diseases, including cancer, has been proposed by scientists at the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science (IACS) here. Some of these genetic variations termed SNPs (pronounced snips) are associated with cancer, certain infectious diseases like leprosy, AIDS, and many others. “These genetic variations can give us an idea about how humans respond to pathogens (microorganismic infectious agents like virus, bacterium, prion or fungus that cause diseases), chemicals, drugs, vaccines and other agents,” IACS’s associate professor in biological chemistry, Rupa Mukhopadhyay, told IANS.
Detection of these genetic variations can help predict one’s susceptibility to diseases. Identification of these abnormalities is often done by using DNA probe based biosensor technologies. DNA is the double stranded helically twisted molecule that serves as the hereditary unit of life. A biosensor is a device that uses a living organism or biological molecules, especially enzymes or antibodies, to detect the presence of chemicals. However, according to Mukhopadhyay, the DNA-based biosensors which are in use have certain limitations. “The points to be considered for an ideal biosensor are easy use of the biosensor system, the reading should be reproducible, target-specific and sensitive. All these can not be achieved by DNA probes,” said Mukhopadhyay. “We have proposed in a recent work that LNA, which is a synthetic analogue of DNA, can be a much better probe in surface-based DNA detection techniques,” said Mukhopadhyay. According to her, during testing, LNA stands nearly upright to the testing surface because of its unique structure and this gives it the ability to overcome the disadvantages of DNA probes.