DNA Sudoku

Researchers get help from a venerable number theory and a popular puzzle game to solve genetic medical mysteries

Researchers get help from a venerable number theory and a popular puzzle game to solve genetic medical mysteries

A 2,000-year-old math theorem, along with Sudoku, may soon help researchers untangle DNA at blazing speeds.
Hunting for a particular genetic mutation in hundreds of thousands of specimens can be an expensive and time-consuming process. In the past several years, faster multiplex DNA sequencing machines have sped up the acquisition of data, but researchers have still been hobbled by having to label each sample with a unique molecular identifier (or bar code) for analysis.
Scientists are proposing a new take on a very old idea to tackle large data sets simultaneously. The team is applying the Chinese remainder theorem to pinpoint single samples in larger pools, which are arranged in rows and columns
By using the idea, researchers can deal with whole libraries of genetic information instead of looking at just “one genetic sequence at a time,” says Yaniv Erlich, the lead author of the paper, published as the cover story of this month’s Genome Research.

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