24 May Lucigen aims to fill holes in genetic maps with new technique
Middleton, Wis. — Lucigen Corporation, which provides molecular cloning products to genetics researchers, has been awarded a patent on a new way to clone genes that may solve a persistent problem in genetics.
Researchers often find missing pieces or gaps when they analyze genes using standard methods, explained Ron Godiska, a senior scientist with Lucigen. These gaps are caused by sequences of DNA that react poorly to standard cloning techniques, which use the E. coli bacterium, and become unstable.
When DNA is cloned in E. coli, he said, it is carried by another piece of DNA called a vector. The same standard vector has been in use in genetics labs for 20 years, and it is with this vector that the problem lies.
“The gaps are caused by parts of the genome that the E. coli cells don’t maintain properly,” Godiska said.
Lucigen has made the patented technology part of its CloneSmart line.
Lucigen’s technique can be used on creatures such as pathogens and microbes that grow in extreme environments – very high or low temperatures, for example – that have not been successfully studied using existing techniques. Pathogens in particular seem resistant to standard cloning techniques, Godiska said, but Lucigen’s technology works well with them and with any project that requires using only small amounts of DNA.
The Human Genome Project, which sought to map the entire human genetic code, was declared finished in April 2003, early and under budget. But even there, gaps remain.
“‘Finished’ is sort of a working definition,” Godiska said. “I’m not sure if any large genome has ever been finished.”
Jason Stitt is a staff writer for the Wisconsin Technology Network and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.