DNA analysis within minutes: ETH PhD candidate Michele Gregorini is targeting a billion-euro market and is taking on big companies.
Equipment to analyze DNA using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has been available for decades. Why do we need your device, Mr. Gregorini?
With conventional laboratory equipment, polymerase chain reaction takes hours. Thanks to our new device, DNA testing is possible in just 10 minutes.
How would you describe the technical innovation?
Philippe Bechtold ‒ my colleague at the ETH’s Functional Materials Laboratoty ‒ and I have completely redesigned the sample holder and made it much smaller. We need less biological material, and the procedure takes less time.
Your competitors in this nine-billion-euro market for PCR equipment are Roche and Thermo Fisher. How can you hold your own against them?
Because we work with small samples, our materials costs are much lower. Also, our device is quite inexpensive to operate. DNA testing using «peakPCR» can cost almost 80 percent less. In addition, we are entering a completely new market.
At the moment, doctors suspecting a case of flu, tuberculosis, or HIV will send a tissue or blood sample to a lab for testing. Our low price will hopefully persuade more and more out-patient institutions to purchase their own PCR equipment.