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Chip will detect changes in genes and notify on mobile

Last reviewed by: Aleksey Portnov , medical expert, on 16.05.2018
01 May 2017, 09:00

A team of bioengineers from California introduced a new device capable of detecting changes in DNA. The device is a graphene chip and, according to the head of the research project Ratnesh Lala, he can be useful in the medical field. Scientists note that the chip will help to detect viruses, bacteria, cancerous tumors in the early stages of blood analysis, etc.

According to Professor Lal, the discovery of his group can be a real breakthrough and in the near future on the basis of the chip can appear effective digital methods for detecting various changes in the DNA chain. The unique development of Californian specialists can become the basis for the development of biosensor chips implanted in the body and helping to detect characteristic changes in DNA, and such devices will be able to transfer all the received information via a wireless channel to a special application in the smartphone.

The grafen chip was designed to detect the most common form of genetic mutation that causes cancer, diabetes, heart and vascular disease, neurodegenerative, autoimmune diseases, inflammatory processes.

Now there are some technologies that allow to detect such diseases and disorders in the body caused by genetic mutations, but all methods are relatively slow, expensive, in addition, for their use requires bulky equipment. The co-author of the new research project noted that the aim of their team was to develop a quick, simple, inexpensive and easy-to-use method of identifying the disease in the early stages. The chip, according to the developers, will help to replace bulky devices and will be able to react faster to any changes in the body, as well as work with a smartphone and promptly transmit important information to the doctor.  

The chip consists of several parts - a DNA probe and a graphene field-effect transistor. The probe is a piece of double-stranded DNA with a sequence encoding a specific type of single nucleotide polymorphism. The main task of the chip is the capture of molecules with a single nucleotide change and when detecting such mutations, an electrical signal is transmitted over the probe.

Specialists also noted that the chip developed by them has a distinctive property - work in electronic form due to the attachment of a DNA probe to a graphene transistor. According to the researchers, the new chip is the first device that combines DNA nanotechnology and high resolution of electronic sounding, the device clearly demonstrates how it is possible to perform DNA with the replacement of a circuit on a graphene transistor. As a result of this approach, technology has emerged that is quite suitable for use with wireless electronic devices to detect changes in the DNA chain.

Now the scientists are faced with the task of expanding the technology and adding the ability of the chip to work over a wireless network. The team of Professor Lala is preparing to test his technique in clinical conditions, in their opinion, the chip will initiate a new era of diagnosis and personalized treatment.

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