Handheld Device Separates Human DNA from Fluids in 2-3 Minutes
May 8, 2013 11:24 AM
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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.
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5/9/2013 9:22:54 AM
Problem is that DNA as identification requires sacrificing a lot of privacy. Your DNA is your programming code - it can be used to guess at everything from your likely health risks to facets of your personality and mental health (e.g. are your prone to addiction?).
If we're going to tie our identity to something that needs to be verified to an online trusted system (likely government mandated) rather than a hopefully hard to tamper with piece of plastic, I'd prefer going with fingerprints than handing over my DNA for abuse.
5/9/2013 9:33:48 AM
Identical twins exist and would by nature have the same DNA.
5/9/2013 10:09:58 AM
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"This is about the Internet. Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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