DNA and genetic analysis is one of the most widely used techniques in biotechnology. Areas of use include ancestry determination, forensic science, cancer research, health evaluation, genetic modification of food, epidemiology, genetic counseling, just to name a few. Most of the time, a process called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is needed before the actual DNA analysis can be done. This is because many available samples of DNA contain only a small amount of DNA. PCR can take that small amount and make thousands of copies so that the sample becomes "amplified" or "multiplied". This makes a large enough quantity for analysis. Although PCR is widely used in industry, it has not been practical for high school science labs because of its cost and time requirements.
The next step in DNA processing is called gel electrophoresis. This step takes the "amplified" DNA, which has also been cut into segments, and lets it "run" through a gel that separates the different lengths into distinct bands. The gels are stained with dyes and then viewed with a light table or with blue light which fluoresces the bands. These band sequences look like rungs on a ladder and can be compared to known samples. This is where a "match" or "non-match" can be determined. This process is also time consuming and difficult to perform successfully.
miniPCR is a company that has developed PCR cyclers and gel electrophoresis chambers that are much cheaper and easier for students to use compared to what is currently available. the PCR cyclers use technology that allows students to track the progress and complete the process in one hour. The gel electrophoresis chambers are self contained with the electrophoresis, staining, and blue light illumination system all in one. This allows for a much greater success rate
I am requesting five mini8 thermal cyclers for PCR and 5 blueGel electrophoresis chambers. Each of these machines can be used repeatedly, over and over again, and therefore could be shared by many different classes including Biology, Forensic Science, and Biomedical Sciences.