Everything You Need To Know About Targeted Sequencing

Written by on December 3, 2021 in Medical Advances & Procedures with 0 Comments

The things that we know about the human DNA at present are so advanced when compared to just a few decades back that one has to wonder what are the implications of such advancement to everyday life. When we talk about the mapping of the human genome and the DNA, it seems to be a lot like science fiction than what we experience in real life and targeted sequencing is such a foreign concept. In truth, each person is made up of a unique DNA sequence and that makes us essentially different from each other. This knowledge has also led to the idea of individual differences and how certain diseases and illnesses can be present in several individuals but their symptoms and how the body reacts to them are different for each one. There are many instances in history when the approach to the treatment of disease had been one-size-fits-all, and time again, we have witnessed that this cannot be an effective means of treatment.

Even with the development of new medicines, controlled trials often provide the information in which the effects of the drug are observed, and although the average or the normal responses are given more weight, some people may indeed have different responses from those that are expected of the drug. It can be said that the next best thing in the approach to medical treatment and therapy involves a targeted treatment and intervention plan that looks into the individual DNA of the person. As such, whole DNA sequencing for this purpose has not been viable as it is not a practical option, it is too costly and takes a lot of time that most patients, healthcare providers, and hospitals do not have. A revolutionary method has been developed to take DNA sequencing to a new level, and it is called targeted sequencing. Read on to find out more about what it is and how it can help improve the lives of ordinary people like us.

What is Targeted Sequencing?

Targeted sequencing is part of the new sequencing technology that has been developed in the past two decades, specifically it is part of what is called the Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS) which is a method that can sequence millions of DNA molecules at the same time. When it was first used in 2005, it has become the most important DNA sequencing methodology and has made significant contributions to research, industry, and health care. It has also made precision medicine more attainable as the clinical team is now able to sequence the DNA of a patient based on his or her whole genome or a specific gene panel to be able to develop treatment options that are specific to the genetic profile of the patient. With this new sequencing technology, all of these are achievable such that it is cheaper and faster. Since the 1990s, scientists have been trying to develop technologies that will significantly improve DNA sequencing, and with NGS this has become a reality. At present, the NGS technology can do its job in sequencing a whole human genome in two days and with a very low cost at that.

How Does Targeted Sequencing Work?

Targeted sequencing or as it is often called resequencing involves sequencing only a part of the whole genome or those areas of interest that have been found to be related to specific illnesses and diseases without having to sequence the entirety of the individual’s genome. But before the targeted sequencing can be done, the genome has to go through a series of procedures called a pre-sequencing DNA preparation called target enrichment. This procedure is done to identify the target region or area of the DNA sequence and it is amplified or captured of which will be the specific region that the targeted sequencing will occur. In this way, the targeted sequencing procedure can focus on which part of the whole genome it has to work with efficiently and effectively.

How Important is Targeted Sequencing?

Aside from being the most efficient DNA sequencing method, targeted sequencing can provide researchers and physicians with a method for examining the DNA profile of a patient faster and cheaper than other methods. It can provide results in a matter of days and we all know that when it comes to illnesses and diseases, a faster response is more appropriate. Although whole-genome sequencing is not without its merits, it is more suited for research and exploratory studies where time and financial resources are not an issue. Targeted sequencing is more useful to the applications of scientific findings to the improvement of human life. Thus, it can be said that the applications of such cannot be underestimated and that it can lead to the improvement in how we develop and design treatment and therapies for conditions and situations like cancer, cardiovascular diseases, organ transplant screening, childbearing, inherited disease testing among others. It is also useful in industrial applications like food safety, environmental science, and animal health. Thus, it can be said that the future applications of targeted sequencing are limitless.

What Will the Future Be for Targeted Sequencing?

It is only recently that targeted sequencing has become more accessible to scientists and practitioners as more and more laboratories are making it available for the public. In the past, you can only have access to such technology if you were a researcher or a scholar in a top-notch university that has the right funding and resources. With the new technologies and laboratories to perform targeted sequencing, the future looks bright for its medical and industrial applications. Thus, targeted sequencing can be used to understand how a disease develops over time and being able to develop a therapy that is guided by the DNA information of the patient. Moreover, since it only requires a target or focused region to sequence, the information derived from the sequencing will not require a massive database for storing data. The current direction of targeted sequencing will probably lead it into clinical diagnostics, translational research, and industrial applications. Most of all, precision medicine is the area in which targeted sequencing will be the most useful and trail-blazing.

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