PhD Candidate Breaking Ground with Instant DNA Test | EasyDNA South Africa

An ambitious young Australian PhD candidate is leading the race to develop the first portable instant DNA testing device. The student, Evelyn Linardy, is close to completing the prototype for a device which may allow regular care doctors, scientific researchers and even Homeland Security border enforcement officers to analyze and get results for DNA tests within just 10 minutes- outside of a laboratory environment.

The prototype is called EzyAmp and if it lives up to the hype, it will revolutionize the DNA testing industry overnight. The EzyAmp diagnostic device is said to be able to quickly – in a mere 10 minutes – analyze and identify animal and plant life including microbes such as pathogens and bacteria. Without the need for a laboratory, the device will have astounding implications as it can be used in whole host of applications such as law enforcement and medicine.

A rising star

Ms. Linardy is no newcomer to achieving breakthroughs innovations in science. While still studying she has already been awarded two prizes at the UNSW Innovation Awards in 2013 for a previous version of her EzyAmp device. The latest prototype is said to deliver qualified results in literally just a few minutes. Average DNA testing times in laboratory settings typically take several days to weeks to complete and evaluate results. Ms. Linardy’s device – once proven – will revolutionize the way DNA tests are used by making them not only much quicker, but also placing them in new hands across the world.

By eliminating the laboratory it is proposed that this technology could be used to identify most anything and could have applications for police, environmental protection agencies, border security, clinicians and much more. “DNA is the signature of every living organism” says Linardy, “if you know the sequence of DNA you can identify what biological specimen you have.” Linardy is a science graduate with honors in molecular biotechnology and has previously worked with SpeeDx, a biotechnology firm. Once the true scope of the potential applications for EzyAmp became evident, Linardy decided to continue development of the diagnostic device as her PhD project with University of New South Wales (UNSW), Australia,

EzyAmp: practical applications

The EzyAmp is already generating a buzz as the scientific community starts to develop potential applications for its use. It has been suggested that the device would have practical uses in all kinds of medical situations such as effectively and accurately diagnosing an infectious disease agent. In a clinical setting, the EzyAmp could potentially be used on the patient to identify a sample containing a pathogen. As the device can quickly tell the doctor which pathogen is present- for example Malaria- doctors would be able to accurately treat the illness in just minutes rather than wait for time consuming laboratory results while their patient continues to worsen.

Homeland Security will certainly monitor the continued development of this groundbreaking device- much as probably will most major law enforcement bodies. With the EzyAmp in hand, law enforcement officials and border security could potentially immediately identify persons suspected of breaking the law. In the hands of a border security agent it could potentially be used to definitively identify a given person much more accurately than any form of photo identification ever possibly could.

For now the device remains in development however scientists are excited at the potential applications of the EzyAmp and are eagerly waiting to put it to use in the field.

More about genetics & suggested reading

Recently, the field of nutrigenomics has drawn much interest. This field of genetic research links food, diet, disease and genetics and in future, it will be indispensible for people to optimise their health and lead longer, healthier lives. Diets will no longer be based on randon weight loss programmes and regimes but rather will be founded on genetics. Learn more about genetics and nutrigenomics.

Immigration into South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs of South Africa overseas all entries into the country, resident permits and visas. Immigration DNA testing is often used in immigration cases. South Africa sees a huge number of immigrants into the country originating from various parts of the world, although the majority of immigrants are from Zimbabwe. In fact 29% of all residency permits in 2013 were for Zimbabweans.

The Republic of South Africa (RSA) has a very strict immigration policy which has been very carefully thought through. It entails several forms and the provision of documents by those wishing to immigrate into the country.

In some cases naturalised South Africans or South Africans by birth will have non-South African relatives living outside South Africa. These relatives may want to move into South Africa and join their relatives. This may require some kind of evidence that the people are actually related by blood/ biologically related. In some cases, the documents will not be enough – the birth records might not meet the requirements of The Department of Home Affairs of South Africa. In this case an immigration DNA test will be needed as proof of relationship between the native or naturalised South African and their non South African relative.

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