Breakthrough in aging and cancer through telomere sequencing unveiled by Oxford Nanopore Technologies and the Salk Institute

New Telo-Seq method achieves high accuracy in mapping chromosome ends using Oxford Nanopore sequencing

Oxford Nanopore Technologies, in collaboration with the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, this week announced a significant advancement in the study of telomeres with a new publication in Nature Communications. The research highlights the effectiveness of Oxford Nanopore's Telo-Seq method in accurately sequencing telomeres, the repetitive regions at the ends of chromosomes that play a crucial role in aging and cancer research.

"This breakthrough underscores the capabilities of our native long-read nanopore sequencing technology in tackling one of the more complex regions of the genome while enhancing our understanding of the role of telomeres in aging and cancer," said Sissel Juul, Vice President of Applications at Oxford Nanopore Technologies. "This advancement opens new avenues for researchers to explore telomere biology with unprecedented detail and accuracy."

The study, titled "High-Resolution Telomere Sequencing Using Long-Read Nanopore Technology", demonstrates how Oxford Nanopore's unique features have enabled scientists to see telomere-length reads – including modifications – at ultra-rich, nearly single nucleotide resolution. The study highlights the critical role of long-read sequencing in accurately mapping telomere ends, providing valuable insights into their structure and function and creating specific targets for clinical studies and possible drug discovery. This achievement is particularly noteworthy given the challenging nature of telomere sequencing due to their repetitive sequences.

Oxford Nanopore developed Telo-Seq, a groundbreaking tool used by researchers at the Salk Institute and performed on Oxford Nanopore’s platform, to determine the entire sequence and precise length of telomeres on each individual chromosome through high-resolution sequencing of telomeres. This method provides new insights into telomere dynamics in health and disease, revealing previously inaccessible aspects of telomere biology.

“Telo-Seq will allow us to answer questions about development, aging, stem cells, and cancer that we simply couldn't address with previous tools,” said the study’s senior author Professor Jan Karlseder, Chief Science Officer at the Salk Institute, in a press release. “We don’t even know what we’ve been missing, and I think the things we’re starting to learn now are really just the tip of the iceberg. It’s a very exciting time for telomere science.”

Oxford Nanopore's Telo-Seq is now available in early access, enabling researchers worldwide to replicate these results and further their understanding of telomere dynamics in various biological contexts. This programme is expected to facilitate numerous studies in aging, cancer, and other fields where telomere biology is a key factor. Interested researchers can find out more here:

Telomere research has increased in popularity due to the unique capabilities of the Oxford Nanopore platform. Researchers from Stanford presented work in a separate Nature Communications paper measuring telomere length using Oxford Nanopore. Additionally in April, a research team led by Nobel laureate Carol Grieder published another paper in the journal Science outlining a new method using Oxford Nanopore’s platform to examine telomere length in detail.