December 02, 2009
Desktop Drug Gene Tester For Hospitals

A start-up is aiming a genetic testing machine at hospitals and doctors offices.

A desktop instrument recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration might finally bring pharmacogenomic testing--the use of a patient's genetic information for drug prescription decisions--to the mainstream. The device, made by Nanosphere, a startup based in Northbrook, IL, can, in a matter of hours, detect genetic variations in blood that modulate the effectiveness of some drugs. Dubbed Verigene, the technology employs a combination of microfluidics and nanotechnology, housed in a single plastic cartridge, to pull DNA from a blood sample and then screen it for the relevant sequences.

Microfluidics and nanotechnology moving into the marketplace.

Genetic variations affect how we respond to drugs in a number of ways. For example, genetic variants in liver enzymes determine the rate at which the liver will break down drugs and even how drugs will get broken down. Still more genetic variants influence whether the drugs will cause harmful side effects and how well or poorly drugs will work. The ability to test a patient in a matter of hours will allow a hospital's staff to decide which drugs to use, at which doses, and whether additional precautions are needed such as aggressive monitoring of heart, liver, and other organ functionality.

The value of genetic testing for drug compatibility is going to rise due to the torrent of genetic testing data getting generated by researchers who suddenly have much cheaper ways to do genetic testing and DNA sequencing.

In a way this is a transitional technology. In a few decades (if not sooner) most people will get their DNA sequenced at birth. Then either a big internet server databases will hold each person's DNA sequence for emergency hospital use or each person will have an implanted machine-readable record of their DNA sequence for fast scanning in an emergency ward.

But desktop DNA testing is also a step down the road toward personal surreptitious DNA testing and DNA sequencing. Bars, clubs, and other mating scenes will some day be big locations for stealing saliva and tissue samples to test someone's DNA to decide whether to pursue a relationship or steal some sperm in a one night stand for single motherhood.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2009 December 02 03:25 PM  Biotech Assay Tools

random said at December 3, 2009 7:56 AM:

If DNA sequencing becomes that ubiquitous, then how long before spy agencies and criminals find a way to negate it? It should be possible to throw off some of these tests by injecting certain chemicals. Or perhaps they will be able to manipulate their own genetic sequences enough to falsify the evidence.

Tj Green said at December 3, 2009 1:49 PM:

What concerns me is the information we are losing now. All the information we have on peoples history, and their medical records, is meaningless without their DNA sequence. Invaluable information that would benefit future generations destroyed in crematoriums.

Randall Parker said at December 3, 2009 1:55 PM:


Totally agreed. Huge waste. While dying people are reluctant to donate their organs I bet many would donate a DNA sample.

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