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Obtaining DNA for Sequencing: Sometimes Plasma is the Way to Go

Dec 29, 2014 1:00:53 PM / by James Sanchez

Acquiring DNA from plasma may avoid problems with safety and bias. In terms of sequencing, recent work has helped make this approach a reality.

If you follow scientific trends, you have probably heard the phrase “Next Generation Sequencing” at least once recently. Although the phrase may sound vaguely like part of the “Star Trek” franchise, it in fact refers to techniques that are revolutionizing how we study the genetic basis of disease and development.

plasma Next-generation sequencing has made libraries' worth of data available. Sometimes, it pays to look at the DNA that comes from plasma. Image credit:

Traditional methods of determining the sequence of a section of DNA have been around for several decades, but scientists are excited about newer approaches that provide sequence data in a high throughput fashion. These technologies have provided libraries’ worth of information – at a relatively low cost.

Scientists at Bioo Scientific were interested in preparing DNA for sequencing when DNA is not present in large amounts, such as outside of a cell. As the company said during development:

“We are working on a kit for extracting cell-free DNA from plasma, and one of the main applications of doing that is for non-invasive prenatal testing. Advantage of using plasma from gestational collection is that it allows us to prove that we are recovering fetal DNA; for this to be straightforward, it needs to be from a [pregnant] woman carrying a male fetus. That way after sequencing, if any reads map to the Y chromosome, it has to be fetal DNA.”

In addition to acquiring plasma DNA for safe prenatal testing, obtaining a “liquid biopsy” of cancer cells may be useful as well. Collecting DNA outside of tumor cells avoids the bias inherent in sampling from tumors, where the site of the biopsy might reveal mutations only present at that particular site. The challenge of attaining cell-free DNA, though, is to be able to pick up the relatively low amount of genetic material of interest.

Bioo Scientific reported the performance of the NEXTflex Cell Free DNA-Seq Kit.[1] In a maternal plasma sample, a high percentage of fetal DNA was recovered, as shown by analyzing the proportion of reads mapping to the Y chromosome (hence from the male fetus). The research program was made possible in part from plasma delivered by HemaCare:

“The application is extracting cell-free DNA from plasma and using it as input to make DNASeq libraries for NGS (next generation sequencing). We got some nice data last week from DNA extracted from plasma we purchased from Hemacare!”

HemaCare is proud to have supplied plasma for this important work that should benefit non-invasively examining fetal DNA, as well as other applications, including cancer detection and treatment. HemaCare is here to provide plasma for your research needs, too.




Topics: Cancer, Plasma, Basic Research

James Sanchez

Written by James Sanchez

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