Two new Kickstarter projects are looking to provide low cost PCRs to citizen scientists hoping to peek into their own DNA. Mini PCR and Open qPCR, are currently seeking funding to give DIY scientists the basic genomics research tool.
While Open qPCR is aiming at garage scientists with its $1300 Real-Time PCR Thermocycler, miniPCR is aiming at students and hobbyists with its $400 PCR machine. Lets look at both PCR offerings seperately.
Intended for more advanced users, the Open qPCR is by the team members of openPCR campaign on Kickstarter. The advanced real-time PCR version sold here comes with its own software and 16 wells of 100 – 200uL, enough for a garage scientist or a school laboratory. Other features include an open sourced easy to use software, captive touchscreen, USB, wi-fi and ethernet connectivity, 470nm to 490nm wavelength. Additional advantage is its ability to work with just 45W power, making it reliable for field use. It also comes with a low cost PCR MasterMix made with a custom florescent dye.
Sold by Chai Technologies, the most important feature is in the cost, while the simplest real-time PCR machine would cost somewhere in the vicinity of $20,000, the Open qPCR costs just $1,300.
Intended more for educational purposed for school kids and early scientists, the miniPCR is simple PCR thermocycler. It comes with 10 wells and an easy to use mobile app that helps design and control experiments. Gel electrophoresis units are bundled with the DNA Discovery Systems to allow separation and further experimentation.
The minPCR kit comes with Parental Gene Test kits that can help any teenager get answers to whether his or her parents are really biological parents. Other kits include GMO food and food safety detection kits.