Researchers from the University of British Columbia have designed a DNA measurement platform that would provide revolutionary performance standards in the accuracy and sensitivity of sample screening.
This would improve a range of screenings and genetic diagnostics where accurate measurement is critical such as the detection of pathogens in food products, prenatal diagnostics, early detection of cancer and the study of single cell gene expression.
Liquid surface tension is used by the new digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) device, instead of microscopic valve systems and this would separate the DNA samples into groups of 1,000,000 chambers or more. The device would help in the direct counting of single molecules which become isolated in individual chambers. The density of reaction chambers reached by the platform would surpass the conventional valve based digital PCR methods by a factor of 100, which would directly translate into an enhanced performance.
Carl Hansen, who is the Assistant Professor in the UBC Department of Physics and Astronomy and in the Centre for High-Throughput Biology, stated that the device would help solve major technical issues, which have been a barrier to the scale and accuracy of conventional digital PCR techniques. This would also produce defect-free arrays of millions of even volume sub-reactions and also control dehydration of these reactions throughout thermo-cycling processes.
Researchers utilized PCR for amplifying or copying a single piece of DNA millions or sometimes billions of times in molecular biology technique. This technique depends on repeated cycles of cooling and heating of the reaction, whereby segments of DNA are replicated using a DNA polymerase. PCR is thus used for cloning DNA in medical and biology laboratories; detecting hereditary diseases, analyzing genes and is also used in forensics.
Nature Methods has published the description of the megapixel platform, which has set new standards in the detection of rare mutations.
The Canadian Institute for Health Research, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council and the Terry Fox Foundation have provided funds for the research.