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Accessible Real-Time PCR

State of the art nucleic acid detection is often performed using a quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assay, in which DNA amplification is combined with fluorescent labeling to enable real-time interrogation of specific DNA amplification. Historically, this requires a large, complex, expensive piece of laboratory equipment.

I was a co-founder of Helixis, a Caltech spin-out company that successfully developed a novel thermal transfer method for qPCR. This enabled high-speed, low-cost thermal cyclers. Helixis was acquired by Illumina in 2010, and this product is now available as the Eco Real-Time PCR instrument. We applied a related idea to enable ultra-fast PCR reactions, with full amplification in under two minutes.

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