We are building an apparatus capable of performing a single genetic analysis in less time than a short doctor’s visit would take. Our current focus is on the DNA amplification and analysis that will be performed within the desktop instrument. We are doing the PCR in a unique way, a process that we call “Thermal Gradient PCR”. Instead of cyclically heating and cooling a vial or capillary, we just use a syringe to push the biological mixture through a small channel built into a microscope slide. By the time the fluid exits the glass channel, the number of identical DNA pieces within it has increased by nearly a billion-fold. This amplification occurs in less than 10 minutes, during which time the DNA can be analyzed with a non-invasive measurement technique, thus determining the genetic identity of the DNA being examined. We are currently able to amplify samples up to 200-bp in size directly from genomic DNA (human, bacterial, etc.).

Forthcoming articles will detail the integrated DNA analysis that we are adapting for the thermal gradient system, as well as the continuous-flow extraction and sample preparation techniques that we will be combining in this instrument. For detailed information regarding any of these methods, please direct inquiries to engineeringcrews@gmail.com.