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UQ discovery enables rapid diagnosis anywhere

Holding the dipstick technology (from left) Dr Michael Mason, Professor Jimmy Botella and Yiping Zhou


UQ discovery enables rapid diagnosis anywhere

A new Australian study published today has reported a revolutionary dipstick technology that allows DNA and RNA to be extracted from living organisms in as little as 30 seconds.

Developed by University of Queensland researchers, the technology allows the extracted DNA or RNA to be used for a range of applications including disease diagnosis.

The UQ team led by Professor Jimmy Botella and Dr Michael Mason say the dipstick technology can be used virtually anywhere without the need for specialised equipment or personnel.

“This technology will benefit people in both developed and developing nations to tackle a range of agricultural, health and environmental problems”, said Professor Botella of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences.

“We have already successfully used dipsticks in remote plantations in Papua New Guinea to diagnose sick trees, and have applied it to livestock diseases, diseases in human samples, human pathogens in food, and in detecting environmental risks such as E. coli-contaminated water.”

Professor Botella said DNA and RNA could be isolated using commercial kits, but this was a long and cumbersome process, requiring specialised laboratory equipment not practical to use in the field.

The authors initially developed the dipstick technology for plants and found that it could successfully purify DNA from a large number of agriculturally important species.

However, they soon found that their discovery had much broader implications as it could be used to purify either DNA or RNA from human blood, viruses, fungi and bacterial pathogens from infected plants or animals.

“Our technology eliminates the need for a specialised laboratory for sample preparation, and is a lot simpler, faster and cheaper than anything else available,” he said.

“The dipstick technology makes diagnostics accessible to everyone.

“By combining our dipsticks with other newly developed technologies by our group, the entire diagnostic process from sample collection to final result can be easily performed in a hospital, farm, hotel room or even a tropical jungle.”

Commercial and philanthropic partners are being sought for the technology by Australia’s leading commercialising entity, UniQuest, which has patented the technology.

The PLOS Biology study is entitled: Nucleic acid purification from plants, animals and microbes in under 30 seconds (doi tba).

source: The University of Queensland

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