A key step for the analysis of small samples (e.g. soil, tissue or cells) for their biological content or activity is the sample preparation and isolation of nucleic acids. Generally it is necessary to remove unwanted constituents from the sample and further on to enrich the targeted biological material.
Nucleic acid from "complex" samples
By now IMM has developed several automatic systems for the extraction of nucleic acid from "complex" samples for the downstream amplification and analysis (PCR/NASBA). These systems are particularly interesting for
- security related issues (anti-terrorism efforts; Wiso)
- medical applications (Point-Of-Care; Microactive, Qlab)
The devices target the detection of harmful germs in soil and air samples or medical screening, e.g. for infections with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), that are directly linked to cervical cancer. Yet another system serves prenatal diagnostics by isolating foetal DNA from the blood of pregnant women (Safer).
The development was driven by combining cutting-edge microfluidic concepts with well established extraction methods in order to obtain a platform that is easy to operate. In order to reduce user intervention and machine maintenance all reagents for the assay are stored on chip.
With small modifications these systems can be adapted to other fields of operation where it is necessary to analyse complex biological samples "in the field" and on a short timescale. This includes for example
- Foodstuff analysis / animal feed control
- Medicine ("personalised Medicine", Point-Of-Care)