Quick, cheap gene tests for many diseases could be just around the corner, with the development of a DNA test that works on a drop of saliva.
"This technology offers a speedy, cost-efficient alternative to existing methods of DNA analysis," says Dr Juan Diaz-Mochon of Edinburgh University's School of Chemistry.
"Our method could help reach the goal of complete genome analysis in a few hours for less than $1,000."
The researchers say that the test, based on chemical analysis, delivers reliable results without the need for expensive enzymes used in conventional DNA testing.
It's successfully been used to detect genes linked to cystic fibrosis, they say. CF is known to be caused by a single faulty gene.
The team hopes soon to test whether it can decode entire human genomes.
"We plan to test the technology further, extend our collaborations with leading researchers and companies in the DNA sequencing field and establish our first commercial operations within the next six months," said the university's Professor Mark Bradley.
Such a test, say the researchers, would enable improved personal diagnosis, allowing prompt, appropriate treatment for patients.
We think the insurance companies might quite like it too.
The study appears in Angewandte Chemie.