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 (95°C) causes two strands of a DNA molecule to separate. The lowest temperature (60°C) makes DNA building blocks stick together. Then, holding the temperature in the middle (72°C), 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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