The PCR process heats and cools samples using an enzyme to generate billions of copies of segments of DNA, enabling many research and clinical applications such as disease diagnosis. It is normally a laboratory-based technique and this usually involves a heating block to heat and cool samples in test tubes. DSTL has negated the need for the heating block by creating a novel heating system using custom built test tubes made from a Electrically Conducting Polymer or plastic which heats and cools the test tubes individually. This not only speeds up the process, but also creates a lighter more portable instrument, able to carry out several tests simultaneously. Its potential for use in the fields of medicine, veterinary research and GM food testing is now being realized.
DSTL is launching a joint venture with industry to capitalize on its work. The spin out company, called Enigma Diagnostics will launch two rapid, fully automated diagnostic machines, which have adapted the PCR process.
DSTL is the center of scientific excellence for the Ministry of Defense, housing one of the largest groups of scientists and engineers in public service in the country. It has a 3,000 strong workforce.