The launch of a new gel-based PCR 'lab-in-a-bead' promises more accurate PCR experiments by doing away with the potential for measuring errors.
By combining all reagents required to perform a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) in a single encapsulated ReaX Mastermix bead, Q Chip have opened up the possibility of untrained operators being able to set up reliable PCR experiments.
They can be used for end-point, quantitative PCR (qPCR) and real time PCR (RT-PCR) and with multiple fluorescent chemistries such as SYBR Green and TaqMan.
PCR experiments are used in many applications such as the detection of hereditary diseases, the identification of genetic fingerprints, the diagnosis of infectious diseases and the cloning of genes to exponentially amplify DNA via enzymatic replication.
"You don't have to be a highly skilled technician to perform the test and because it is packaged reagents, it's very easy to use and is very convenient," said to Dr Nanette Bartram, Q Chips product manager.
"You could see particular applications where people want to standardise or ruggedize tests, for instance in QC testing where you want a very reproducible test."
Current kits involve researchers having to measure out the reagents and this can lead to pipetting and measurement errors that can stop the tests yielding quantitative results.
According to Dr Bartram the beads are available off-the shelf in 8, 12 or 96 well strips which "offers complete flexibility over existing liquid or lyophilized reagents as well as maximum convenience, reproducibility and reliability".
Q Chip produces the beads using a microfluidic system that precisely incorporates all the reagents into a gel and can be quite a high throughput process with a minimum batch being approximately ten 96 well plates.
The company also offers a custom bead service where customers can specify exactly which primers, Taq polymerase (including Hot Start enzymes) and any fluorescent chemistry they require in the bead.
"We are also looking into licensing out the technology as it can be used for not just PCR reagents but also drug delivery as well, it's basically a packaging technology and you can package anything you want be that cells or drugs," said Dr Bartram.
"We would license out the manufacturing technology and the beads as well."