Continuous flow polymerase-chain reaction (PCR) chip which takes target DNA and mixes it with the appropriate PCR reagents, conducts rapid thermal cycling, and end-point amplicon detection.
Relevance of the technology
The polymerase chain reaction is a Nobel-prize winning technology and is recognized as one of the most important scientific developments of our generation. How the microscope allowed us to see microorganisms, PCR is a tool that has revolutionized the study of molecular biology. The unique ability of PCR to exponentially copy a single segment of DNA made possible the development of numerous experimental and in vitro molecular diagnostic techniques, which were previously time consuming or impossible to perform.
- HIV-1, which causes AIDS
- Hepatitis B and C viruses, which can lead to liver cancer
- Human Papillomavirus, which can cause cervical cancer
- Chlamydia trachomatis, which can lead to infertility in women
- Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease in women
- Cytomegalovirus, which can cause life threatening disease in transplant patients
- Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which in its active state causes cough and fatigue and can lead to tissue damage of infected organs
State of the art
PCR requires costly lab equipment, expensive reagents, and extensively trained technicians to appropriately conduct the assays. A single analysis typically takes about 3 hours. In practice, these factors lead to batch processing once a day in most clinical labs, making the effective turn-around-time 24 hours. Quick tests which allow for PCR even for small clinics or doctor’s practices do not exist.
ML2 lab-on-chip in comparison to state of the art
The integrated design allows for the production of cheap quick tests which provide information on a sample within 15 minutes. The production approach of ML2 will enable cost efficient manufacturing of tests.
Economical comparison with state of the art PCR
Investment for PCR equipment is typically in the range of 50.000€. Consequently only large clinics and laboratories have access to PCR analysis systems. Due to the large volume of reagents the costs is in the range between 4 to 10€ per test. The overall costs for a PCR test based on ML² technology will be in the range of 6-12€ per test and will not require any additional costly equipment.