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February 8th, 2007
Pity the molecular biologist.
The object of fascination for most is the DNA molecule. But in solution, DNA, the genetic material that hold the detailed instructions for virtually all life, is a twisted knot, looking more like a battered ball of yarn than the famous double helix. To study it, scientists generally are forced to work with collections of molecules floating in solution, and there is no easy way to precisely single out individual molecules for study.
Now, however, scientists have developed a quick, inexpensive and efficient method to extract single DNA molecules and position them in nanoscale troughs or "slits," where they can be easily analyzed and sequenced.
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