In the world of genetic engineering and gene sequencing, scientists find themselves choosing between next generation sequencing systems and older, more established Sanger sequencing systems. With today’s fast-paced environment of gene editing, it’s useful for interested parties to become more familiar with the benefits of next generation sequencing over Sanger sequencing.

What Is Sanger Sequencing?

The Sanger sequencing method allows technicians to sequence just one section of DNA at a time. With Sanger sequencing, also known as capillary electrophoresis sequencing, a technician uses DNA polymerase to add glowing nucleotides in sequence onto a DNA template strand. The glowing fluorescent tag lets you find the incorporated nucleotides.

Sanger sequencing gives researchers only a limited view of the DNA under study.

Benefits of Sanger sequencing include its low cost for fast sequencing when the number of targets that the scientist wants to study is small (as many as 20 targets).

And because more technicians are familiar with Sanger sequencing, there isn’t so much of a learning curve to get over.

However, there are some drawbacks with Sanger sequencing too. Its limit of detection ranges from 15% to 20% and it has less power to discover important sequences quickly (in terms of locating and identifying new variants of interest). It’s not a very budget-friendly option when used for larger numbers of targets (beyond 20) at a time.

And because you have to input many more samples to get work done at this rate, Sanger sequencing does not lend itself very well to projects that call out for massively scaling up, such as in detailed population studies.

About CRISPR and Next Generation Sequencing

If you aren’t very familiar with the nuts and bolts of next generation sequencing and CRISPR, first you should know that CRISPR stands for “Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats.” Scientists reported the development of CRISPR in 2012. It’s a technology that you use to make edits to DNA inside of cells that are still alive.

With CRISPR, you aren’t limited to the number of DNA fragments that you can sequence simultaneously. These are massively parallel systems that you can use to process millions of genetic code sections at once, or hundreds of thousands of actual genes.

For scientists concerned about finding new variants or rare variants in a person’s genes (or in a population), it’s essential to turn to next generation sequencing with CRISPR.

A CRISPR system is much more sensitive when looking for low-occurring variants, according to Illumina. It also promises a faster response time when you are working with huge volumes of DNA sequencing. This allows you to obtain a comprehensive examination of a genome under study.

There’s also cost effectiveness in next generation sequencing with CRISPR in that you can get more results using the same amount of DNA samples when used in Sanger sequencing. For researchers trying to identify mutations as quickly as possible for a new study, using CRISPR is advised over a Sanger approach.

CRISPR Ascends Among Researchers Who Need to Prioritize Rapid, Comprehensive Scans of DNA

When you need to examine huge databases of information that naturally come to play when examining an entire genome of a patient for help in diagnosis or prediction of the potential for disease, you want to go with a more modern tool in the form of CRISPR.

Next generation sequencing systems using CRISPR allow technicians to examine much more information at once. The fact that doing so is also cost-effective makes it more appealing than the prospect of working with Sanger sequencing setups. You can view it as a way to use your laboratory’s limited resources more effectively in terms of time, personnel and faster goals of research and discovery.