Yesterday we heard the prediction that genetics wasn’t going to produce any cures anytime soon, just more tests that would give fuel to our prejudices and traits to assign to whole populations and races.
Today, we learn that glorious future may come faster Genetic testing is already being used in clinical applications, specifically testing patients’ sensitivity to medications that are known to be related to heredity. A big roadblock to screening more people is that blood has to be sent to the lab for testing, which often takes weeks while prescribing needs may not be able to wait that long. Nanosphere out of Northbrook, IL recently received FDA clearance for technology, called Verigene, that could soon be used in point-of-care applications to screen for certain genetic sequencing within a matter of a few hours.
A snippet from Technology Review:
A patient’s blood is injected into a disposable cartridge, which holds a glass slide dotted with DNA. The plastic frame also houses a system of microfluidics chambers containing the reagents for a number of chemical reactions. When the cartridge is inserted into the Verigene instrument, mechanical valves and air pressure mix the reagents in different chambers, triggering a series of reactions.
Magnetic beads first pull out white blood cells, which are burst open using sonic energy, releasing fragments of DNA. Everything but the DNA is then washed away, and a solution of these DNA fragments flows over the glass slide. Target DNA binds to spots on the slide that have been printed with DNA sequences complementary to those of the target sequence. Gold nanoparticles, about 13 nanometers in diameter, then attach to the other end of captured DNA fragments, sandwiching the target. Each gold nanoparticle is coated with silver, expanding the diameter to half a micron, thus allowing it to be easily detected when hit with light.