A hand-held device that can detect genetic mutations, such as those causing genetic diseases or affecting how people respond to certain drugs, in just minutes; has been developed by the collaborative efforts of researchers at the University of California, Berkeley and the Keck Graduate Institute of The Claremont Colleges. A combination of CRISPR and graphene transistors is used by the device to achieve the aforesaid. The device has been designed to achieve easier and more accessible process of diagnosing genetic conditions and predicting drug responses; potentially leading to point-of-care DNA analysis.

The device has been named “CRISPR-Chip”. It saves a lot of time as it does not require a lengthy polymerase chain reaction DNA replication step, unlike the traditional DNA analysis techniques. A relatively small amount of target DNA present in a patient DNA sample is analyzed by the device with the help of nanoelectronics.

There is a change in the electrical conductance of highly sensitive graphene transistors, which are then detected using a simple hand-held device after the device complexes bind to target regions of the DNA sample. A researcher involved in the study, Kiana Aran said that the first transistor that uses CRISPR to search your genome for potential mutations has been developed by their team. One purified DNA sample is placed on the chip; CRISPR performs the search, results of which are reported in minutes by the graphene transistor.

Blood samples from Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients have been used by the research team so far to test the device. Two common genetic mutations associated with the disease were successfully detected by the device. Apart from the obvious use of the chip which is in point- of- care diagnosis of genetic diseases, the devices has other applications for it as well including testing drug sensitivity.

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