Real Time Water Testing Powered by DNA

September 7, 2010

1:11 am

One of the reasons we love bringing TECH cocktail to Champaign is the broad spectrum of products we get to learn about and help showcase that we just don’t see anywhere else. On occasion, we all need to leave the world of Web apps and see what other innovations are out there to inspire. One such company, featured at this weeks event, is ANDalyze which offers products for testing water contamination using catalytic DNA technologies.

Having lived in Washington DC for a while, I can remember at least a few occasions when public water was deemed unsafe to drink (for a certain period of time) because of high levels of lead. I recall seeing plastic bags over water fountains at universities, companies and parks- a sight that does not instill a sense of comfort or trust. In DC and beyond, the safety of community water systems is a very real concern for government agencies, public water suppliers and private industry around the world.

Coming back to ANDalyze, apparently, during the last decade DNA/RNA were discovered to not only be materials for genetic information storage and transfer, but also catalysts for a variety of biological reactions.

The company has developed a methodology for detecting and quantifying chemical levels based on the recent discovery of the catalytic properties of DNA. This technology and product is a universal platform that offers simple, fast, inexpensive and reliable detection of trace metals and other target chemicals.

The core research behind the ANDalyze technology concept was developed in Dr. Yi Lu’s lab at the University of Illinois. Now the ANDalyze team has produced affordable products that can be used by anyone to allow for on-site testing of public water supplies. The DNA sensor technology they’ve developed tests water samples within 2 minutes giving you results at the push of a button. This method enables water testing and reporting to be accomplished in a fraction of the time and cost of traditional heavy metals testing methods, and requires no particular skill set or knowledge of chemistry. Kits start at around $2600.

For example, using the product to test for lead is a simple, quantitative test that allows for detection of lead at or below EPA standards for lead in drinking water. The test is performed by taking a 1 milliliter water sample, injecting it through the sensor, and into the AND1000 fluorimeter. This sample is then automatically analyzed and reports results in less than two minutes. You can see it in action in the video below, or come meet the team as they demo at TECH cocktail Champaign on September 7th at Houlihans on the University of Illinois campus.

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Jen Consalvo is the Cofounder and COO of Tech.Co. She previously worked in product development for almost 13 years at AOL for audiences of millions. Follow her on Twitter at: @noreaster.

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