Last summer scientists at Michigan State University reported about a new device they developed, called Gene-Z, that performs genetic analysis on microRNAs. The device is low cost, uses an Apple iPod Touch as an interface, and doesn’t require much energy, so can be charged using solar panels (you’ll need bigger ones for the iPod).
Over the last few months the team has been testing the Gene-Z on the genetics of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, and believes that it is “a significant step toward truly inexpensive and compact tools for POC genetic testing.”
Using a disposable valve-less polymer microfluidic chip containing four arrays of 15 reaction wells each with dehydrated primers for isothermal amplification, the Gene-Z enables simultaneous analysis of four samples, each for multiple genetic markers in parallel, requiring only a single pipetting step per sample for dispensing. To drastically reduce the cost and size of the real-time detector necessary for quantification, loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) was performed with a high concentration of SYTO-81, a non-inhibiting fluorescent DNA binding dye. The Gene-Z is operated using an iPod Touch, which also receives data and carries out automated analysis and reporting via a WiFi interface. This study presents data pertaining to performance of the device including sensitivity and reproducibility using genomic DNA from Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus. Overall, the Gene-Z represents a significant step toward truly inexpensive and compact tools for POC genetic testing.
Abstract in Lab on a Chip: Gene-Z: a device for point of care genetic testing using a smartphone