Smaller, Lighter, Faster
DNA and disease testing technology has been here a long time, but the trend right now is making devices that run on them smaller and work even faster. We now have machines that perform these tests in as little as two hours or even an hour and a half. But these are specialized devices. We've never had all-in-one machines that can be adapted for multiple types of tests.
Well, now we do. Spartan Bioscience has developed a coffee cup-sized machine that can perform different DNA tests in as little as thirty minutes.
Called the Spartan Cube, the machine uses polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques and fully integrates DNA extraction, analysis, and results. The 4 x 4 inch cube has the interface of a wireless connected tablet.
Plug and Play
The machine works much like an old school gaming rig. The Cube itself is the machine, and the test kit is a cartridge. The Cube first scans the barcode on the test kit. The tablet attached to the cube then recognizes the kit, and finally runs the appropriate program. The test kit contains the chemicals specific to the genes you want to identify.
Typically, these PCR-based applications are used only in the medical field. Now the Cube offers a means to bring the technology to the field. It offers a host of different applications such as testing water in the Amazon rain forest, or animals at the vet.
The developers of the technology hope to accomplish with the Cube what the PC did to computers. " The use of computers used to be confined to research and development and industry . . . [People] didn’t realize that it would unleash games and music and many, many more applications. This all happened because you needed the hardware to be affordable, inexpensive and easy to use to open everything up." Paul Lem from Spartan Bioscience tells ResearchGate.