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Portable device to detect pathogens in 30 minutes

This is a syndicated post. Read the original at Crave: gorgeous gadgets and other crushworthy stuff. - CNET # 2012-02-07.

Engineers at Cornell are building a handheld pathogen detector that will help health care workers around the world test for pathogens such as tuberculosis, gonorrhea, and HIV and get results in as little as 30 minutes, instead of waiting days.

Single strands of DNA link up in the presence of a pathogen to form large chains and clusters, whose larger masses and charges are quickly detectable by the new chip.

(Credit: Luo Lab/Cornell)

Dan Luo, professor of biological and environmental engineering, has been using synthetic DNA to amplify tiny samples of pathogen DNA, RNA, or proteins. Because of $25 (Read more...) in funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's Grand Challenge to 12 teams developing point-of-care diagnostics, Luo will be combining forces with Edwin Kan, a Cornell professor of electrical and computer engineering, who has built a computer chip that can respond quickly to those amplified samples.

The engineers describe their novel device as something akin to a molecular-level Lego builder. Because single strands of DNA pair up with others that have complementary genetic codes, the engineers can synthe... [Read more]

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