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

 

Pest Control: Mouse Blitz Team Leaves For Antipodes

The Million Dollar Mouse project to rid Antipodes Island of mice is underway with the departure of a rodent eradication team to the remote nature reserve and World Heritage Area. More>>

Gongs Got: Canon Media Awards & NZ Radio Awards Happen

Radio NZ: RNZ website The Wireless, which is co-funded by NZ On Air, was named best website, while Toby Manhire and Toby Morris won the best opinion general writing section for their weekly column on rnz.co.nz and Tess McClure won the best junior feature writer section. More>>

ALSO:

Pre-Budget: Debt Focus Risks Losing Opportunity To Stoke Economy

The Treasury is likely to upgrade its forecasts for economic growth in Budget 2016 next week but Finance Minister Bill English has already signalled that more of his focus is on debt repayment than on fiscal stimulus or tax cuts... More>>

ALSO:

Fulton Hogan's Heroes: Managing Director Nick Miller Resigns

Fulton Hogan managing director Nick Miller will leave the privately owned construction company after seven years in charge. The Dunedin-based company has kicked off a search for a replacement, and Miller will stay on at the helm until March next year, or until a successor has been appointed and a transition period completed. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Electricity, Executions, And Bob Dylan

The Electricity Authority has unveiled the final version of its pricing plan for electricity transmission. This will change the way transmission prices (which comprise about 10% of the average power bill) are computed, and will add hundreds of dollars a year to power bills for many ordinary consumers. More>>

ALSO:

Half Empty: Fonterra NZ, Australia Milk Collection Drops In Season

Fonterra Cooperative Group says milk collection is down in New Zealand and Australia, its two largest markets, in the first 11 months of the season during a period of weak dairy prices. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news