Diagnosing genetic disorders and devising personalised therapies just got a lot easier, or at least quicker. Panasonic and Belgian research lab IMEC have created a small chip that tests DNA in under an hour.
The researchers believe that having such quick access to base pair sequences will not only help doctors detect disease-causing abnormalities, but will also allow them to make better, more targeted decisions about which medications and treatments to prescribe. The chip automates the entire process, taking a drop of blood mixed with a chemical substrate, preparing the DNA for PCR, and then running the amplification for sequencing. Panasonic researcher Ichiro Yamashita notes:
Through careful attention to thermal separation design, we've achieved high-speed PCR, where 30 temperature cycles are completed in nine minutes. We think this is one of the fastest PCR systems in the world.
Genetic testing is kind of a can of worms, as our own Elly Hart found out last year, because once your DNA has been sequenced you could discover something that you didn't really want to know, and can't do anything about, but the technology is already fairly widespread. At least now it will only take one episode of Game of Thrones to learn your biological fate. [DigInfo]