Cheap Pocket-Sized DNA Replicator

DNA replication in a cheap, pocket-sized device is now possible; a prototype created by Nitin Agrawal of Texas A&M University costs just $10.


(Pocket-Sized DNA replicator does PCR for $10)

The system could enable DNA-based tests to be carried out in developing countries, where the cost of full-sized labs is prohibitive, and in the field where portable devices are preferred.

Running a PCR [polymerase chain reaction] requires treating DNA strands, along with chemical materials needed to make new DNA strands, at three different temperatures. The highest temperature (95C) causes two strands of a DNA molecule to separate. The lowest temperature (60C) makes DNA building blocks stick together. Then, holding the temperature in the middle (72C), allows an enzyme to quickly assemble replica DNA strands.

Agrawal's device makes use of a set of three metal rods heated to different temperatures. Convection keeps the liquid containing the DNA to be replicated cycling through the device. Victor Ugaz of Texas A&M University, whose group made the new device, says that "It's similar to how a lava lamp works."

A cheap and simple method of preparing DNA samples is now needed to supply the device, along with DNA analysis equipment that is sufficiently minaturized.

Via NewScientist.

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