A new way to PCR, helping to sequence DNA cheaper and faster

by Fred

The DNA-copying device runs off two AA batteries (Image: Victor Ugaz/Angewandte Chemie)Polymerase Chain Reaction,, the bane of many a scientist’s life.

Heat, cool, heat a bit again, repeat ad-nauseum until your many samples are completed.

It’s the process by which DNA (genetic material copies are made to later sequence).

Victor Ugaz and his team at Texas A&M (Gig em Aggies!) Have developed a PCR machine that at production could cost as little as 10$ (US) to make. Oh yeah, and they only need 2AA batteries to operate!

This is huge news, as PCR machines, are, well, ridiculously expensive.

Just a quick trip to LabX will tell you that, if you need just three in a lab, well, you’re looking at, at least , from $1000, to $6,000 for a single unit, and well, multiply that by three, and you can see costs going nuts. Compare that to $30 for three!! Not to mention all the trays and other consumables you’ll have to go through to get through the whole reaction (let alone the cost of your sequencer, which, quite frankly, I don’t want to think about!

Needless to say, this innovation can bring prices down for much needed work to be done, both in forensics and in general laboratory sciences. Let’s hope this thing is fully produced at volume soon (I know it’ll save me money!)

Thanks New Scientist (and Digg)

One review or comment

EEJ Says: May 3, 2007 at 2:03 pm

Let’s not forget about the Folding@Home project!

You too can donate your unused PC cycles to help fold proteins for science! Check out the website if you have a computer sitting around with internet access that isnt being used very often.

Also, this project had some great news that related to the power of the PS3. I don’t know the exact numbers off-hand, but this project has been around for a while for Personal Computers, and was running along ok.

Then they introduced a version for Sony’s PS3, and within a very short time, the contribution of flops (more or less operations performed per second) from the PS3 had already creamed all the months (years?) of work done on PCs around the world!

The project uses distributed computing to let everyone “share” different pieces of the same problem, allowing very complex problems to be solved much more quickly than having only 1 computer working on it.

Can you imagine if all the offices in the world let their computers run through the night on this type of stuff?!?!?!
Too bad the penny-pinchers in accounting wouldnt let you leave them running because of the energy cost…..

Check them out at folding.stanford.edu

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