What would you do if your research interests revolved around obtaining DNA from a bacterium preserved for millions of years in the gut of a bee stuck in amber, matching up a murderer to crime- scene blood half a century old, or cloning genes from a 1,000- year-old mummy? Most scientists would first consider PCR--the polymerase chain reaction--as a technique for approaching problems such as these. With PCR, minute quantities of nucleic acids can be amplified millions of times into sufficient quantities for use in molecular cloning, sequencing, DNA fingerprinting, and diagnostics, among an increasing number of applications.

PCR technology, owned and licensed through Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., a Swiss-based pharmaceutical company with United States headquarters in Nutley, N.J., is considered by many to be the most important development in the field of molecular biology since the discovery of restriction enzymes--the molecular "scissors" that selectively cut DNA--two decades ago. Hoffmann-La Roche,...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?