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Panasonic Newsroom TOPPress ReleasePanasonic Develops New Technology Electrically Identifying Physical Characteristics from DNA

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Headquarters News

Aug 20, 2008

Panasonic Develops New Technology Electrically Identifying Physical Characteristics from DNA

Identifying SNPs electrically without attaching DNA to an electrode

Osaka, Japan - Panasonic, the leading brand by which Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is known, in collaboration with Professor Naoki Sugimoto of Konan University, has developed a technology for electrically identifying single nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs[1] (sequence variations in DNA[2]). This world-first technology* provides economical and accurate identification of SNPs by measuring electrical current without attaching DNA to electrodes.

This technology makes it possible to predict individuals' responses to drugs and their risk of developing disease. In the future, this technology is expected to enable hospitals or clinics to provide patients with treatments and drugs tailored to their individual physical characteristics. With this new technology, Panasonic is contributing to a more personalized medical treatment based on the patient's DNA sequence.

Conventional electrical SNP identification technologies, which use DNA-DNA hybridization reactions to identify the differences in DNA sequences, are not only inaccurate, but also require specialized and expensive electrodes to which artificial DNA needs to be attached.

Against this backdrop, Panasonic has achieved accurate SNP identification technology through the following new technologies:

  1. Designing a base sequence of artificial DNA, for the DNA replication reaction, that depends strongly on the differences in DNA sequences.
  2. Developing an electrical detection technology for phosphate compounds[3] released during DNA replication using the electrical current generated by enzyme reactions.

Technological Features

  1. Accurate SNP identification using a DNA replication reaction that depends strongly on differences in DNA sequences
    To identify SNPs by using a replication reaction for the target DNA an artificially synthesized piece of single-strand short DNA consisting of approximately 20 bases is prepared. The base sequence of this artificial DNA is designed to correspond to that of the target DNA. If the SNP of the target DNA is complementary to the SNP-corresponding nucleotide of the artificial DNA, the replication reaction of the artificial DNA occurs; however, the replication reaction does not occur if the SNP is not complementary. A SNP can be identified accurately by using this reaction.
  2. The world's first electrical SNP identification without attaching artificial DNA to an electrode
    Conventional electrical SNP identification requires specialized and expensive electrodes, on which artificial testing DNA is attached. However, there are still problems in controlling the quantity to be secured and the variation in the result. Another approach is an optical identification method using fluorescent dyes without attaching DNA to an electrode, but this requires large and expensive equipment along with an optics system.
    Panasonic's improved new method can identify SNPs electrically with artificial DNA dissolved in a solution instead of being attached to the electrode.

Details of the Method

  1. Technology for designing a base sequence of artificial DNA for a DNA replication reaction that depends strongly on the differences in DNA sequences
    Panasonic discovered that when artificial DNA is prepared with a base sequence that is non-complementary to the second and third bases from the SNP of the target DNA, a replication reaction from the artificial DNA occurs if the SNP is complementary to the SNP-corresponding nucleotide; however, no replication reaction occurs if it is not complementary.
  2. Electrical detection technology for phosphate compounds released during DNA replication as a 'current value' generated by enzyme reactions
    During DNA replication, a single molecule of a phosphate compound called pyrophoric acid is released as a reaction byproduct every time a base is replicated. Panasonic has developed a new enzyme reaction system for converting the quantity of pyrophoric acid into an electrical current. By using three types of enzymes, the quantity of pyrophoric acid is converted to an equivalent quantity of potassium ferrocyanide, an electron mediator, making measurement of the oxidation current possible, a world-first achievement.

Image of SNP Sensor Chip

Patents: 24 in Japan, 22 overseas (including those pending)

<Explanation of Terms>

[1] SNP (Single nucleotide polymorphism)
Of the individual differences seen in the DNA sequence, the condition where one base pair is different from the others, as well as its position, is called a SNP. The three billion base pairs that make up human DNA are thought to contain more than a million types of SNPs. This diversity of base pairs is believed to generate individual differences in each person's reaction to drugs, development of diseases, and other health factors.
[2] DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid)
All living organisms need to synthesize proteins, and the blueprint for this is DNA. The sequence of the four types of base (Adenine [A], Guanine [G], Cytosine [C], and Thymine [T]) controls the types of protein synthesized and their quantity. Two strands of DNA chains form a double helix. In this structure, 'A' specifically forms a base pair with 'T,' and 'G' with 'C.' (A combination of bases that can form a base pair is called complementary, and other combinations that cannot form a base pair are called non-complementary). One of the two strands can make a copy of the original DNA to transmit genetic information.
[3] Phosphate compounds
As a byproduct of the DNA replication process, one molecule of a phosphate compound, called pyrophoric acid, is released every time one base is replicated.

* As of August 20, 2008

About Panasonic

Best known for its Panasonic brand name, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd. is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacture of electronic products for a wide range of consumer, business, and industrial needs. Based in Osaka, Japan, the company recorded consolidated net sales of 9.07 trillion yen (approx. US$90.52 billion) for the year ended March 31, 2008. The company's shares are listed on the Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya and New York (NYSE:MC) stock exchanges. For more information on the company and the Panasonic brand, visit the company's website at

Media Contacts:

Akira Kadota, International PR
Tel: 03-3578-1237 Fax: 03-3436-6766
Panasonic News Bureau
Tel: 03-3542-6205 Fax: 03-3542-9018
*The content in the following news releases is accurate at the time of publication but may be subject to change without notice. Please note therefore that these documents may not always contain the most up-to-date information.

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