A Brief Guide to Buying a Portable Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) Device

March 24, 2021 | Evaluations & Guidance


Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) devices amplify (i.e., make numerous copies of) targeted DNA segments in samples of DNA or RNA. Applications are wide-ranging and include examination of gene expression and mutation, sample preparation for DNA sequencing, water-quality analysis, and diagnosis (detection of viruses, bacteria, and fungi e.g., SARS-CoV-2, Clostridioides difficile, Candida auris).

Traditionally, PCR devices have been used in clinical or research laboratories. But recent advances in PCR technology have given rise to portable devices with capabilities similar to those of laboratory-based PCR devices. Portable PCR devices can be used in specified indoor and outdoor environments at the site of sample collection. This allows the PCR results to be employed for their intended research or point-of-care (POC) diagnostic application (e.g., virus detection) at the sample site.

Two broad types of PCR can be performed with portable PCR devices: conventional PCR or real-time PCR (also known as quantitative PCR, or qPCR). Which type a given device performs depends on the type of thermocycler (i.e., thermal cycler) it uses; this component heats and cools samples through precise heating/cooling cycles to produce an amplified target DNA segment.

  1. Conventional PCR uses conventional thermocyclers, which amplify...

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