Electrophoresis is the separation of particles caused by an electric current. Scientists use this process to examine the human body and other species at the genetic level. The process separates components of DNA to determine the presence of certain genetic makers and even the presence of disorders and diseases. The relative low cost and extreme accuracy of the testing has enabled science to map genetic markers for a variety of blood-borne disorders, including sickle cell anemia.
Versatility in Identification
Electrophoresis is a versatile diagnostic test in that it can be used for both protein and nucleic acid separations or for protein separation fingerprinting. This system is often used in the medical field to diagnose a variety of genetic blood disorders such as sickle cell anemia and thalassemia in either one dimensional or two dimensional tests to separate proteins and identify genetic markers. Electrophoresis has also been used to determine different species of fish as well as determining valuable traits of soybean and wheat by analyzing and separating component DNA.
Low Cost to Use
According to Crop Science, a journal for genomics, molecular genetics, and biotechnology published by Michigan State University, the cost of electrophoresis is an estimated $2.60 per gel sample run through analysis, or less than three cents per point of data. In terms of genetic research and analysis this makes electrophoresis one of the cheapest means of identifying genetic markers on a larger scale with machines holding as many as 100 samples at a time.
Accuracy of Results
Electrophoresis is extremely accurate. When the process is carried out correctly, it can separate proteins present within a cell into as many as 1,500 distinct parts. The system is also highly selective in that it is able to notice differences in DNA samples even if such samples differ by as little as two base pairs. This provides for reliable test results that enable scientists and lab technicians to draw conclusions about the genetic makeup of tested species to grow hardier crops, determine the likely presence of a disease in the human body, and perhaps one day eliminate it on the genetic level.