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Genes with Liquid Lasers

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Researchers at the University of Michigan are developing a way to detect gene mutations linked to cancer using a liquid laser, says the university's news service. Instead of using dyes or other biological tags to mark mutated genes — a technique that is less than perfect as the tags can bind to normal DNA and cause researchers to misinterpret the signal — the UMich research team developed a system based on laser emission "for differentiating a target DNA strand from strands that contain single base mismatches," the school adds. "Laser emission is used to amplify the small difference in signals that are generated by the different strands after they bind with a molecular beacon." This system renders mutated DNA hundreds of times brighter than normal DNA, allowing the researchers to filter out unwanted signals.

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