A new method of extracting information from DNA

By Bridget Botelho
Contributing Writer
The genetic basis of the most deadly diseases in the world aren’t well-understood or easily treated. But a small group of scientists in Providence’s nascent Knowledge District are developing a way to fully understand and treat diseases such as cancer. More

To continue reading this article, please do one of the following.



A PBN SPECIAL SECTION: 2011 INNOVATION AWARDS

A new method of extracting information from DNA

PBN PHOTO/RUPERT WHITELEY
GOOD GENES: Barrett Bready, CEO of NABsys, says that his startup’s approach to looking at DNA is different and more comprehensive than other current methods.
By Bridget Botelho
Contributing Writer
Posted 10/3/11

The genetic basis of the most deadly diseases in the world aren’t well-understood or easily treated. But a small group of scientists in Providence’s nascent Knowledge District are developing a way to fully understand and treat diseases such as cancer.

Providence-based startup NABsys Inc.’s proprietary technology takes an entirely different approach to looking at DNA than what is done today and extracts far more information that other methods can, said Dr. Barrett Bready, CEO and co-founder of NABsys and Providence Business News’ 2011 Innovator of the Year.

Scientists currently sequence DNA optically by illuminating it and labeling the units that make up a person’s genetic code (DNA bases) to read them. Making the DNA “light up” is expensive and it doesn’t provide enough genetic information to differentiate healthy cells from unhealthy cells. For that reason, treatments such as chemotherapy kill both healthy and unhealthy cells, making patients extremely ill.

The inability to differentiate DNA of systemic diseases and viruses from healthy human cells is the reason that systemic diseases such as cancer and HIV have not been defeated, Bready said.

“Historically, we have been successful in treating infectious diseases because the genome on the bacterium is very different from a human genome. So, scientists know how to kill bacteria and not harm human cells,” Bready said. “But with systemic diseases such as cancer, the cells aren’t so different from healthy cells and the treatments available today can’t distinguish between the two.”

Scientists know that the differences between the DNA in cancer cells and the DNA in healthy human cells can be targeted to kill cancer cells without destroying healthy cells, but existing technologies aren’t able to pinpoint those differences.

But NABsys’ technology can.

The technical explanation of what NABsys’ platform does is it builds solid state, electrically addressable nanopore arrays that sequence DNA without amplification or labeling by combining nanopore sequencing with sequencing-by-hybridization.

In layman’s terms, NABsys has figured out how to make DNA flow through silicon chips to deliver DNA sequencing electronically. With that, scientists can obtain detailed information about the DNA of individual cells and use that information to differentiate between healthy cells and unhealthy cells.

Next Page
Calendar
PBN Hosted
Events

Two Great Programs...One Great Event. PBN's Annual Celebration of Growth and Innovation is now underway. 2014 applications are now available. Deadline August 1st.
  • Healthiest Employers
    Celebrate with the Healthiest Employers in RI on August 14th at the Providence M ...
  • 40 Under Forty
    Thank you to our sponsors and to all those who attended the 10th Anniversary of ...
Advertisement
Purchase Data
Book of Lists
Lists
Book of Lists cover
PBN's annual Book of Lists has been an essential resource for the local business community for almost 30 years. The Book of Lists features a wealth of company rankings from a variety of fields and industries, including banking, health care, real estate, law, hospitality, education, not-for-profits, technology and many more.
Data icons
Data can be purchased as single lists, in either Excel or PDF format; the entire database of the published book, in Excel format; or a printed copy of the Book of Lists.
  • Purchase an e-File of a single list
  •  
  • Purchase an e-File of the entire Book of Lists database
  •  
  • Purchase a printed copy of the Book of Lists
  •  
    National
    Local
    Latest News
    Advertisement