New device uses CRISPR, graphene transistors to detect gene mutations in minutes

Researchers have developed a hand-held device that combines the gene-detecting properties of CRISPR with electronic transistors made of graphene that can detect gene mutations within minutes without the need for DNA amplification. The futuristic device, called CRISPR-Chip, could be used to rapidly diagnose genetic diseases or test the accuracy of gene-editing technologies, they say.

In demonstrating CRISPR-Chip’s sensitivity, the researchers used the device to detect two genetic mutations in blood samples from patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a severe muscle-wasting disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene.  The device detected the mutations in 15 minutes, much faster than conventional technology which can require wait times of several weeks, they say. The ability to detect this mutation rapidly could lead to early therapy before the disease has developed, they note.

Their study, partly funded by NHLBI, appeared in Nature Biomedical Engineering.