A New Single-Drop DNA Test Detects Disease in 90 Minutes

Testing DNA for diseases is about to hit rapid speed thanks to a new single-drop test that has the power to detect harmful viruses like HIV or malaria within 90 minutes according to a new study.

Researchers at the Australian Institute for Bioengineeing and Nanotechnology at University of Queensland hope the new testing method will be of valuable uses to farmers and health workers for detecting diseases in crops and livestock.

“We’ve been able to take what would usually be done with complicated equipment in a centralized laboratory and miniaturize it into a single drop of fluid that farmers, for example, can use to get an almost immediate result in the field,” says Matt Trau.

Determining the results is simple, as the single-drop test changes color if it’s positive and can detect the smallest amounts of bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms in almost any sample of DNA or RNA. The researchers are especially hopeful in the new testing development’s use in third-world countries where lab testing is much more difficult and time consuming. In addition to its usefulness in developing countries, it could also provide an invaluable service in preventing the spread of potentially harmful diseases at places like airports or shipping yards. “We expect that the technology would also be beneficial to the Australian Customs and Quarantine services and the Australian export industry as they could test products in the packinghouse before shipping,” said Jimmy Botella, professor in the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

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