A paper-based diagnostic platform invented by Harvard University bioengineers
could provide a cheap, portable and easy-to-use system for detecting pathogens
in hospitals or developing-world settings.1 The technology uses
embedded gene expression systems and can detect isolated mRNA
biomarkers, but it will need to detect sequences in complex biological samples
before it can be put into practice beyond the lab.
The diagnostic was created by a team led by James Collins
at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at
Harvard University who wanted to find real-world applications for
synthetic gene networks. According to Collins, those systems have not gained
traction yet in treatment settings because of concerns over safety and the
complex apparatus involved.
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