The new method is simple and effective. It costs very little, and it's very quick.
The most widespread and common method of screening DNA is called gel electrophoresis. Each test takes 1 hour and can cost as much as $1.00. Setting up a lab for gel electrophoresis requires a capital expenditure of $5,000. By contrast, Professor Rothberg's technique only requires 5 minutes, and it costs approximately $0.05 (literally five cents) per test. The capital expenditure to set up a lab with the new technique is only $600.
Here's how Professor Rothberg's procedure is done:
Step 1. Hybridization. This takes 10 seconds and costs $0.025.
Step 2. Add gold colloid to the hybridization solution. This takes 10 seconds and costs $0.02.
Step 3. Add salt to the solution. This takes 10 seconds and costs $0.01.
Step 4. Measure photoluminescence. This takes 1 minute.
It's as simple as that, yet nobody's ever done it before. The method is so new that the University of Rochester filed patents for it in 2004 and 2006. In May 2005, Professor Rothberg created a company called Diffinity Genomics, Inc. with two partners to further study and commercialize his technique.
Professor Rothberg's method is part of a much larger process that analyzes DNA. First, a technician extracts the DNA from the blood, tissue, or food. This typically take up to an hour. Second, there is generally not enough DNA to analyze, so it must be chemically amplified. This also takes apprximately one hour. The new process comes after these two steps, saving a final hour of work for the technician, who ordinarily would be doing gel electrophoresis.
Perhaps more important than the savings in time and money, the new method works to determine single-base mutations in DNA, whereas gels cannot do this without even further
Source:University of Rochester