A patented self-contained device for isolating deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), ribonucleic acid (RNA), proteins, and cells without using pipettes or centrifuges has been developed at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). Composed of reagents, functionalized membranes, and multi-way valves and pumps, this fluidic system enables automation of highly accurate real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to isolate genetic material from organisms and microorganisms for molecular analysis. The device is self-enclosed and leak-proof, so users are protected from chemically hazardous reagents.
JSC’s technology provides hazard-free, microgravity-compatible hardware for DNA/RNA isolation. It also allows PCR analysis to be used outside the lab in environments where pipetting is difficult and/or where hazardous chemicals must be confined to an enclosed container, such as military settings and remote clinical operations. This self-contained device for isolating DNA/RNA, proteins, and cells is a component system that includes syringes and pistons, membranes of different capacities, reagents, four-way valves, and small pumps.
The pre-filled reagents are the same as those used in conventional PCR laboratory isolation analysis. The DNA and RNA isolation kits process small sample amounts using a self-enclosed and pipette-free technique. Multiple kits can be stacked to allow several samples to be processed simultaneously. The system can be used in conjunction with existing analysis modules, such as commercially available DNA instruments. The process can be fully automated and programmed and can potentially be applied to other biological processes. The JSC innovation will permit the extension of laboratory isolation protocols to many applications.
Developed to enable molecular diagnostics aboard the International Space Station, this easy-to-use analysis tool can be fully automated and programmed, extending laboratory isolation protocols to numerous applications in healthcare, forensics, and field biology.