Once a single drop of blood is placed on the chip, it’s mixed with a chemical and the DNA extracted. The parts of the DNA containing SNPs are then isolated and amplified using PCR. Through careful attention to thermal separation design using high-speed PCR, 30 temperature cycles are completed in nine minutes. This is one of the fastest PCR systems in the world. This amplified bit of DNA is then pumped to a filter, where it’s further separated and then passed through to a new electrochemical sensor which is able to identify the all-important SNPs. Scaling the whole process down into a small chip requires powerful micro-pumps to fire the blood from one part to the other. Panasonic used a conductive polymer for the actuators, enabling them to exert pressure of up to 30MPa. As well as enabling “tailor-made therapy” on a large scale, the system could also be used to test GM foods while they’re still in the warehouse.

Sohu digital date: April 9, 2013