Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Revolutionary handheld DNA diagnostic unit

Revolutionary handheld DNA diagnostic unit allows lab-quality analysis in the field

A revolutionary handheld and battery-powered DNA diagnostic device invented at the University of Otago is poised to become a commonly used field tool for rapidly detecting suspected viruses or bacteria in samples while also determining the level of infection.

The breakthrough device, dubbed Freedom4, will be unveiled today at the Queenstown Molecular Biology main meeting. It takes advantage of a technology called quantitative PCR to identify target DNA sequences in real-time, without the need for further processing.

As an example, using Freedom4, the presence and extent of norovirus infection in a sample could be confirmed within less than an hour, while the person using the unit was still at the outbreak site.

Dr Jo-Ann Stanton, who led the programme to develop the device, says that as well as enabling ‘anytime, anywhere’ clinical diagnosis of viral infectious diseases in humans and animals, it also has many other potential uses, such as border security, forensics or environmental monitoring.

Developed by Dr Stanton’s multidisciplinary team at Otago’s Department of Anatomy, the sturdy unit weighs the same as a typical laptop and fits on the palm of your hand. Freedom4 boasts a six-hour battery life and can be tethered to a laptop, or connect wirelessly to smart phones or tablets running custom software that analyses and interprets the test results.

“This mobility could provide a great boon for farmers. For instance, vets could drive around a farm analysing samples from various locations, make their diagnoses and treat infected animals—all in one trip,” she says.

A prototype of the device has been independently put through its paces by the New Zealand Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research. After running assays for toxin-producing E. coli, and several gastrointestinal and respiratory viruses—including H1N1—Freedom4 was found to perform on a par with much larger laboratory-based DNA analysis systems.

Dr Stanton says she and her team are delighted that their six-year project to make a handheld point-of-care diagnostic device a reality has come to fruition.

“We are immensely proud that we have created this brilliant device; there is currently no other system in the world that compares in terms of the analytical power we have achieved at this level of mobility and ease of use.”

Dr Stanton’s team includes a physicist, computer programmer, a chemist and biologists. Their project was funded through a New Economy Research Fund (NERF) grant, from what is now the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. NERF objectives include supporting investigator-initiated basic research that has the potential to create the advanced technological platforms that will underpin new and emerging industries.

The University’s commercialisation arm, Otago Innovation, is now working to spin out the technology in partnership with a New Zealand company named Ubiquitome.

Otago Innovation’s Senior Commercialisation Manager David Christensen says that Freedom4’s development exemplifies university research being successfully translated into real-world technology with enormous potential health, economic and environmental benefits.

“Dr Stanton and her colleagues have used their combined multidisciplinary expertise to overcome a number of daunting technical challenges to create a molecular diagnostic device that is truly world-leading,” Mr Christensen says.

It is another great example of technology transfer from the University of Otago, he says.

“We are delighted to be a part of Ubiquitome as it works to realise its dream of connecting the world to meaningful genomic information through handheld, cloud-connected genetic analysis devices.”

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Housing Policy: Auckland Densification As Popular As Ebola, English Says

Finance Minister Bill English said calls by the Reserve Bank Governor for more densification in Auckland’s housing were “about as popular in parts of Auckland as Ebola” would be. More>>

ALSO:

Crown Accounts: NZ Government Deficit Smaller Than Expected In First Half

The New Zealand government's operating deficit was smaller than expected in the first six months of the financial year, as the consumption and corporate tax take rose ahead of forecast in December, having lagged estimates in previous months. More>>

ALSO:

Fruit & Veg Crackdown: Auckland Fruit Fly Find Under Investigation

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is investigating a find of a single male Queensland fruit fly in a surveillance trap in the Auckland suburb of Grey Lynn... MPI has placed legal controls on the movement of fruit and some vegetables outside of a defined circular area which extends 1.5km from where the fly was trapped in Grey Lynn. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Westpac NZ Reaches $2.97M Swaps Settlement

Westpac Banking Corp’s New Zealand unit has agreed to pay $2.97 million in a settlement with the Commerce Commission over the way the bank sold interest rate swaps to farmers between 2005 and 2012. More>>

ALSO:

Going Dutch: Fonterra Kicks Off $144M Partnership With Dutch Cheese Maker

Fonterra Co-operative Group, the world’s largest dairy exporter, has commissioned a new dairy ingredients plant in Heerenveen, in the north of the Netherlands, its first wholly-owned and operated ingredients plant in Europe. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: NZ Retail Sales Beat Estimates

New Zealand retail sales rose more than expected in the fourth quarter, led by vehicle-related transactions, food and beverages, adding to evidence that cheap credit and a growing jobs market are encouraging consumers to spend. More>>

ALSO:

Delivery Cuts Go Ahead: 'Government Money Grab' From NZ Post

"It's a money grab by the Government as the shareholder of New Zealand Post" says Postal Workers Union advocate Graeme Clarke about the changes announced by NZ Post. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news