Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory



Handheld PCR Instrument

Background

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is a powerful laboratory research and diagnostic technique used to amplify small amount of DNA or RNA in samples by many orders of magnitude. Small quantities of DNA or RNA, such as those found in small shards of shrapnel in a battlefield wound, are often not enough to analyze for potential contagions or signs of bio-weapons. Amplifying these samples through PCR supplies scientists and investigators alike with sufficient quantity of genetic material to conduct their research or tests. DNA, and particularly RNA, however, are often prone to rapid degradation. Transporting samples from the battlefield to the lab while maintaining their viability is thus an onerous endeavor, which necessitates on-site, real-time PCR technology.


Description

The LLNL invention has two assay chambers wherein each chamber is comprised of another two chamber modules. This allows the device to process up to two assays per chamber module, or four total assays per biological sample. These two duplex assays are each fed by parallel interrogation ports while the device still maintains a small physical profile. Each port has its own LED for excitation, allowing the second assay to have particularly improved excitation. The excitation of both assay chambers is achieved by a much simplified and straightforward optical system, which lowers the size, complexity, and cost of the device while increasing reliability and performance.


Advantages
  • Small and compact design allows for easy transport of an otherwise not easily transportable assay device
  • Real-time aspect lends its usefulness in time-sensitive scenarios
  • Up to four assays per single biological sample

Potential Applications
  • Rapid law enforcement or battlefield detection of possible bio-warfare/bio-terrorism agents or other diseases
  • Rapid detection of disease or possible biological causes of injury/death in clinical and non-clinical domestic settings
  • Further development of availability to be a ubiquitous research and educational tool in addition to its current applications

Development Status

LLNL currently holds a patent 6,699,713 for the invention "Polymerase chain reaction system." (LLNL internal reference # IL-10517)


ID

43119


Email
vaishnav1@llnl.gov