London: Researchers have developed a DNA measurement platform that promises to improve a range of genetic diagnostics and screenings where precise measurement is crucial.
The technology by UBC researchers could also help in the early detection of cancer, prenatal diagnostics, the detection of pathogens in food products, and the analysis of single cell gene expression.
The new digital polymerase chain reaction (PCR) device uses liquid surface tension, rather than systems of microscopic valves, to partition DNA samples into arrays of 1,000,000 chambers or more.
The device enables the direct counting of single molecules isolated in individual chambers.
The density of reaction chambers achieved by the platform exceeds more traditional valve-based digital PCR techniques by a factor of 100, translating directly into improved performance.
This solves some major technical issues that have limited the scale and accuracy of traditional digital PCR techniques, Assistant Professor Carl Hansen with the UBC Department of Physics and Astronomy and Centre for High-Throughput Biology, said.
It creates defect-free arrays of millions of uniform volume sub-reactions, and controls dehydration of these reactions during thermocycling, he explained.
The description of the megapixel platform has been published in Nature Methods .