The new technology allows for mass production of oligonucleotides on an industrial scale. The oligonucleotides made with the new method are lower cost and produce a more consistent product than present methods. The process can also manufacture larger oligonucleotides than any previous process. Several different oligonucleotides can be produced at the same time with the new method.
This is an illustration of the production of oligonucleotides (ref. Nature Method 2 June 2013) Photo credit: Björn Högberg, Karolinska Institutet
In the new technique, bacteria are used to copy DNA sequences as a long string of single-stranded DNA in which the sequence of interest is repeated several times. The large DNA strand is cleaved into the desired fragment by enzymatic action.
Oligonucleotides are used in genetics, forensics, drug development, and DNA nanotechnology. Many of the recent advances in genetic and molecular biological research and development, such as the ability to quickly scan an organism's genome, would not have been possible without oligonucleotides.
A mass production methodology for manufacturing oligonucleotides promises lower cost medical research, lower cost drug development for specific genetic applications, and shortened drug development times. This new method may even reduce drug costs in the long term.
Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and Harvard University