Off-the-shelf, equipment-free molecular diagnostic kits for genetic diseases and infections like HIV and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus are a future possibility, according to US researchers.

Huimin Kong and colleagues at New England Biolabs in Beverly, Mass., report a novel isothermic DNA amplification technique in EMBO Reports. Although the technique is still only in the earliest developmental stages, "we have a big plan," said Kong.

"We can do amplification at one temperature without doing thermal cycling, and our method uses a DNA helicase to open the helix, rather than using heat," Kong explained. He said the method was developed to complement rather than replace polymerase chain reaction (PCR)—which relies on a heat denaturation step—and would be useful for techniques such as in situ PCR on tissue sections that are otherwise destroyed.

"What that means is that down the road, people can do DNA amplification detection without any instrumentation, on the bench,"...

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