In Washington, a group of researchers from Seoul National University have explored the role of biochips in driving next-generation sequencing. Biochips are essentially tiny laboratories designed to function inside living organisms, and they are driving next-generation DNA sequencing technologies. This powerful combination is capable of solving unique and important biological problems, such as single-cell, rare-cell or rare-molecule analysis, which next-generation sequencing can’t do on its own.
In APL Bioengineering, the team note that the next trend in biochips will involve being capable of providing applications across a wide spectrum — from identifying rare bacterium to population-based clinical studies. One example of real-world use is biochips that isolate single cells from a heterogeneous mix of a complex biological mass — they are enabling preprocessing for massively parallel $1 single-cell analysis.
“When these biochips meet next-generation sequencing, the net value of both technologies will increase exponentially,” said Amos Chungwon Lee, lead author and a graduate student in Sunghoon Kwon’s Biophotonics and Nano Engineering Laboratory. “If biochips that allow single-cell analysis prevailed for the last decade, there are many more biochips with different functions that will now innovate the bio field — including drug-screening biochips.”
“Like smartphones, biochips will be used by people on a daily basis to check their health or nutritional status,” said Lee. “In the same way that smartphones have shifted the paradigm for information flow, smart biochips will play a key role in revolutionizing the system for the acquisition and interpretation of Mother Nature’s information flow.”