Handheld Device Separates Human DNA from Fluids in 2-3 Minutes
May 8, 2013 11:24 AM
Current methods take 20-30 minutes
A new, hand-held device is capable of separating human DNA from fluid in just two or three minutes, and without any harmful chemicals.
Researchers from the University of Washington and Washington-based company NanoFacture have created a device that can quickly and simply separate DNA from human fluids for the purpose of
, forensics and diagnosing diseases.
Traditional methods of separating DNA from fluids use a centrifuge to separate DNA molecules or strain them from a fluid with a micro-filter. However, these techniques take 20 to 30 minutes, and may need toxic chemicals for completion.
The team -- led by Jae-Hyun Chung, a UW associate professor of mechanical engineering -- set out to create a better way. They did so by developing microscopic probes (called microtips and nanotips) that dip into a fluid sample of blood, saliva or sputum. An electric field is then placed within the liquid, and particles are brought to the surface of the probe. The bigger particles hit the tip and move away while DNA-sized molecules bind to the probe and are trapped on the surface.
From there, it takes two or three minutes to separate and purify DNA.
Even better yet, the device can handle as many as four samples at once -- but can be scaled up to handle 96 samples at once.
"It's very complex to extract DNA," said Chung. "When you think of the current procedure, the equivalent is like collecting human hairs using a construction crane. This simple process removes all the steps of conventional methods."
The device is ready to be manufactured at this point, and could eventually be distributed to clinics and hospitals. NanoFacture has already signed a contract with Korean manufacturer KNR Systems.
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser
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