DNA Replicator in Your Pocket

DNA Replicator in Your Pocket

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted May 2, 2007 in DNA Inventions and Gadgets

lava lampHave a tenner in your wallet and a few strands of DNA? A device that is approximately the length and width of two AA batteries is capable of replicating DNA using polymerase chain reaction (PCR). A complete cycle can be as fast as 20 minutes. Traditional PCR machines (some of which are available on eBay) usually take a few hours. Professor Victor Ugaz at Texas A&M likens the technique to a lava lamp.

New Scientist has more details: Mini DNA replicator could benefit world’s poor.
via DailyTech

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Comment by Brian Subscribed to comments via email

Comparing 20 minute PCR to a few hours is kind of misleading. A PCR that takes a 2 hours doesn’t have ramping time (the time it takes to go from one temp to the next) of 1 hour and 40 minutes. I’m sure their system is faster since the ramping time seems to be close to nothing, but I think they’re comparing the minimum time on their machine (20 cycles with a 15 second extension?) with a typical PCR on a current machine.

Heck, I can do a 20 minute PCR right now if I add enough DNA and have a short enough product.


Brian: lol That’s a good point. But the little gadget is still quite novel and is a good start! I’d like to know what the prep is like. Just imagine trying to control contamination, minuscule samples, and reagents in the field. *headache*

Comment by James Wachai Subscribed to comments via email

I must, also, jump into this bandwagon and say that Hsien is a very passionate writer. I am yet to meet a scientist with a passion to write as Hsien. She has demystified science blogging. Hsien is the mirror through which all science bloggers should see their future.


James: Thank you so much! I’m afraid I’m simply addicted to science blogging. Can’t explain why else I do it…. Oh, the compliments help too! :D


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