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Mini-lab promises affordable on-site DNA-based testing


April 29, 2012

The thumb-sized Domino chip can perform 20 genetic tests from a drop of blood

The thumb-sized Domino chip can perform 20 genetic tests from a drop of blood

A genetic testing mini-lab developed by researchers at the University of Alberta to set to begin commercial trials within a year. The Domino system provides a portable, cheap and powerful alternative to conventional laboratories that delivers a range of point-of-care diagnostic possibilities including tests for blood borne diseases such as malaria and those affecting farm animals.

At the core of the Domino system is a thumb-sized, disposable plastic chip containing 20 tiny compartments for the reaction gel used to test each bio-fluid sample. When this chip is fed into the portable lab - which contains a laser, CCD detector and heater - DNA-based diagnostic results can be obtained in one hour.

The system doesn't require highly-skilled operators and each compartment performs an independent test. It's also projected to cost US$5,000, while the disposable chip will cost only a few dollars, so the benefits are obvious for health-care in developing nations, as well as large scale testing in the livestock industry.

Developed by U of A experimental oncologist Linda Pilarski, the Domino technology is licensed to Edmonton-based Aquila Diagnostic Systems.

Aquila’s chief technology officer John Acker says previous studies show the mini lab produces results that match the accuracy of larger, centralized labs.

The livestock industry will be the company's first target market, with trials at feedlots in southern Alberta expected to begin within a year.

The University of Alberta animation below shows how Domino works.

Source: University of Alberta, Aquila Diagnostic Systems

About the Author
Antonio Pasolini Brazilian-Italian Antonio Pasolini graduated in journalism in Brazil before heading out to London for an MA in film and television studies. He fell in love with the city and spent 13 years there as a film reviewer before settling back in Brazil. Antonio's passion for green issues - and the outdoors - eventually got the best of him and since 2007 he's been writing about alternative energy, sustainability and new technology. All articles by Antonio Pasolini
1 Comment

wow!... mini-lab DNA-based diagnostic testing that can perform 20 genetic tests just from a drop of blood.. Amazing tlg!

Diana Lim
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