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Apr 27, 2020

This New Smartphone-Based DNA Test Could Help Track Disease in Real Time

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, biotech/medical, computing, mobile phones

Scientists typically use a method known as polymerase chain reaction (PCR), but it requires bulky and expensive equipment and considerable expertise to perform correctly. That means DNA samples collected in the field normally have to be sent to dedicated laboratories for testing, which makes it hard to detect diseases or harmful pathogens quickly.

A new testing system developed by researchers at the Army Medical University in China may help to fill that gap by allowing on-the-spot DNA tests in as quick as 80 minutes. According to the researchers, their test achieves 97 percent accuracy using simple 3D printed parts that attach to a standard smartphone and weigh less than 100 g rams (0.22 pounds).

At the heart of the system is an “i-chip” just four centimeters long that includes integrated sample preparation, DNA amplification, and signal detection modules. The various reagents required to carry out the test can be pre-loaded in the device, and the researchers showed that these could be kept for up to ten weeks at room temperature without loss of performance.

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