A new CRISPR-Chip device with electronic transistors made from graphene can detect specific genetic mutations in a matter of minutes. This means that genetic testing could be performed in a doctor’s office or field work setting without having to send a sample off to a lab.
“The device, dubbed CRISPR-Chip, could be used to rapidly diagnose genetic diseases or to evaluate the accuracy of gene-editing techniques. The team used the device to identify genetic mutations in DNA samples from Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients.
“We have developed the first transistor that uses CRISPR to search your genome for potential mutations,” said Kiana Aran, an assistant professor at KGI who conceived of the technology while a postdoctoral scholar in UC Berkeley bioengineering professor Irina Conboy’s lab. “You just put your purified DNA sample on the chip, allow CRISPR to do the search and the graphene transistor reports the result of this search in minutes.”
Aran, who developed this technology and brought it to fruition at KGI, is the senior author of a paper describing the device that appears online March 25 in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering.
Doctors and geneticists can now sequence DNA to pinpoint genetic mutations underlying a host of traits and conditions, and companies like 23andMe and AncestryDNA even make these tests available to curious consumers.
But unlike most forms of genetic testing, including recently developed CRISPR-based diagnostic techniques, CRISPR-Chip uses nanoelectronics to detect genetic mutations in DNA samples without first “amplifying” or replicating the DNA segment of interest millions of times over through a time- and equipment-intensive process called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR. This means it could be used to perform genetic testing in a doctor’s office or field work setting without having to send a sample off to a lab.
“CRISPR-Chip has the benefit that it is really point of care, it is one of the few things where you could really do it at the bedside if you had a good DNA sample,” said Niren Murthy, professor of bioengineering at UC Berkeley and co-author of the paper. “Ultimately, you just need to take a person’s cells, extract the DNA and mix it with the CRISPR-Chip and you will be able to tell if a certain DNA sequence is there or not. That could potentially lead to a true bedside assay for DNA.”..
Graphene, built of a single atomic layer of carbon, is so electrically sensitive that it can detect a DNA sequence “hit” in a full-genome sample without PCR amplification.
New CRISPR-powered device detects genetic mutations in minutes
Source: Berkley News
Image: CRISPR-Chip uses deactivated CRISPR-Cas9 protein, tethered to a transistor made of graphene, to detect specific genetic sequences in a DNA sample. (Graphic courtesy Kiana Aran)
Video : UC Berkeley video