Magnetic field based separation of DNA from complex biological fluids

The market for DNA extraction and purification in Europe and North America exceeds one billion dollars. There is also a nascent market in point of care testing and an unserved market in the developing world. At present, the DNA extraction and purification market is divided into manual systems that are error prone and require significant operator skill, and large, expensive robotic systems. The Prentiss Lab invention makes extraction faster, decreases the required operator skill level and could be useful in either market segment. The lab has successfully demonstrated DNA extraction efficiencies comparable to existing commercial products, and the DNA extracted has been successfully amplified by PCR. Envisioned products include simple, stand-alone extraction systems targeted at customers performing manual processes today or improvements to robotic systems that make testing faster, while decreasing the systems’ footprint and cost.

The Prentiss Lab proof of concept features include long narrow cylindrical tubes in which biological samples are confined. Permanent magnets are used to gather and transport magnetic beads and magnetically induced collective interactions between the beads is exploited. Air gaps are used to separate buffers and two movable permanent magnets are deployed with anti-parallel poling directions. Functional achievements of this prototype include a very small footprint, efficient capture from unlimited sample volumes of complex fluids, efficient transfer of clumped beads through the air gaps between buffers with very little undesirable fluid transfer (eliminating pipetting and reducing fluid transfer allows faster testing of DNA obtained from complex samples), efficient remixing of clumped beads using only the motion of a single permanent magnet and economically feasible capture of dilute DNA from large sample volumes.

Intellectual Property Status: Patent(s) Pending

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