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Large-scale DNA production made cost-effective

By Kirsty Barnes , 23-May-2006

Vandalia Research has launched a new DNA amplification service that it claims will speed up the mass production of high-quality DNA sequences with the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), while at the same time reducing the risk of contamination.

US company Vandalia Research has invented a new technology called Triathlon - a continuous method for heating and cooling the PCR reagents, which allows the processing of unlimited volume of DNA sequences, without having to pool the products from multiple small tubes.

"This method can produce up to five times the volume than that of a 96-well plate, leading to decreases in labour, turnaround time, and disposable costs," said the company.

"Most critically, the closed nature of the process also leads to a dramatic reduction in the number of opportunities for contamination."

PCR is a technology in which a segment of a nucleic acid (DNA or RNA) is copied or "amplified" so that the nucleic acid can be more readily analysed and used in important R&D applications, including gene expression quantitation and genotyping.

Demand for newer and cheaper PCR technologies has escalated since the expiration of foundational PCR patents in the US last year and in the rest of the world in March this year, giving the green light for PCR to be used in many applications for the first time without licensing fees.

However, while PCR has many advantages for DNA manufacturing, costly and cumbersome thermal limitations with the rapid heating and cooling of aqueous mixtures have so far limited its use on a large scale.

Traditional methods of generating large quantities of DNA using PCR have required that the reaction mixture be distributed into very small tubes for this thermal cycling. The reaction mix is then collected and combined before the PCR-amplified DNA products can be used.

"Because of the vast volumes of reaction being processed, the continuous nature of the system, and the reduced contamination and error, Triathlon now enables PCR to cost-effectively transition from research to production," said the company.

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