Lockheed Martin builds DNA lab on a single chip

  • Lockheed Martin and ZyGEM have developed an advanced DNA analysis system powered by a single, small processor.

    The platform - which has been dubbed RapI.D. - taps the latest microfluidic R&D to rapidly accelerate the DNA identification process.

    "Our law enforcement, homeland security and defense communities face a significant challenge in how quickly they can confirm an individual's identity," explained LM spokesperson John Mears.

    "[So], we essentially [designed] a [DNA] laboratory on a small, single chip that reduces the processing steps and time needed for analysis.

    "[What previously took] days or weeks to complete [is now] an affordable, on-site process [lasting] less than an hour."

    A prototype RapI.D. system is already operational at ZyGEM's Virgina MicroLab laboratories, with a beta version expected to be released for testing in select laboratories by early 2011.

    It should also be noted that ZyGEM recently introduced a diagnostic algorithm capable of accurately identifying up to 30 types of microbes (simultaneously) from a single sample in less than an hour.  

    The algorithm operates by scanning a catalog of "fingerprints," or DNA markers, for a broad range of microorganisms. 

    It then uses the fingerprints to identify and discriminate between the microorganisms in mixed microbial populations - even from dilute samples.