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help a student with a PCR process question? - (Apr/24/2007 )

Hello, I hope this is not considered spamming - I'm not a scientist, I'm an industrial design student. I'm working on my thesis project on looking at PCR equipment and thermocyclers and how they might be improved. I would love any input on any frustration you have with running PCR process with current cyclers or equipment. How could the process be improved? What are your pet peeves with the equipment?

any thoughts would be great. Thanks again.

-bobgordon-

Often the display is very small and the menu is not clear.

It also would be nice to have a small centrifuge special for PCR cups. But it maybe available allready.

-citroenboom-

thanks for the input, any other problems you guys face with the equipment?

-bobgordon-

I believe the best thing that could be done is to design an instrument which was front-panel free, and had only a power cord and ethernet or wireless connection. The "front panel" would be a web browser interface. I believe this should be the way most of our lab equipment should be designed. The worst approach would be to interface it to a PC.

-phage434-

Hi bobgordon,

I've been designing a machine in my head for many years. It contains compartments for storing the various solutions - buffers, dNTPs, primers, etc. - so that you just programme what you want to go into the reactions. All you add is the template in tubes or plates, then the machine works with microfluidics. It takes up the template samples, mixes these with the other ingredients, then shuttles these mixtures between different regions that are set at the temperatures you want. No ramping times involved, so the process should be much quicker. The final products get spit back out into the tubes or plates. A cleaning step, of course, would be needed at the end to prevent contamination between runs. I'd be surprised, though, if something along these lines is not already in development. The market is considerable, and growing.

-wbla3335-

well that machine sounds very nice! hurry up and get it out there quickly please =)
improvements in display are my definite must! input of program, saving the program, loading it, make it more clear between different stored programs... maybe make it a nice colour lcd touch screen.

(and for citroenboom, i do use a mini-centrifuge for pcr tubes).

-g√ľndl-

QUOTE (phage434 @ Apr 26 2007, 08:15 AM)
I believe the best thing that could be done is to design an instrument which was front-panel free, and had only a power cord and ethernet or wireless connection. The "front panel" would be a web browser interface. I believe this should be the way most of our lab equipment should be designed. The worst approach would be to interface it to a PC.


I've had the EXACT same idea. The web browser interface could be more user-friendly than the front panel, plus you could theoretically log in remotely and check up on the progress of your run. In fact, you could even have a system to track the progress of multiple cyclers, so you can see which ones are free and even book them in advance (good for big labs). Removing the front panel also means the thermocycler could be smaller and cheaper.

Anyway, what about hot-air thermocyclers? I don't know much about them, other that they don't use a peltier-driven heat block but instead blow hot air across the reaction mixtures held in fine glass capillaries. I think it is an old technology so maybe it's not as good as the peltier.

Well, I think modern cyclers are pretty good apart from the user interface. We have a Bio-rad Mycycler and the interface is horrible. The screen goes blank each time you change one setting! And we have an old Perkin-Elmer that beeps every time you press a button! What kind of moron came up with that idea?

-Zouden-