Wow! Thank you for your overwhelming interest in OpenPCR -- together we reached $6,000 in 10 days! We're really happy that there's such an interest in making this happen.
Now that we've surpassed our minimum goal, additional funds will allow us to make OpenPCR even better (see our update for the details). -- Tito and Josh
Do you want to explore your own genome, hack together DNA code, build your own biofuel, or prove that the trees in your backyard really are Truffula trees? You'll need a PCR machine, one of the cornerstones of molecular biology, which costs $4,000 up to $10,000. How are the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Andy Warhol of biotech going to get their start if the simplest biotech tools cost so much?
In 1983, Kary Mullis first developed PCR, for which he later received a Nobel Prize. But the tool is still expensive, even though the technology is almost 30 years old. If computing grew at the same pace, we would all still be paying $2,000+ for a 1 MHz Apple II computer. Innovation in biotech needs a kick start!
We want to make an OpenPCR machine capable of copying DNA. We plan to make open source designs and kits so anyone can do PCR at their desktop, garage, hackerspace, or community lab for $400 or less.
Our plan: We've got an initial prototype which just blinked to life in the past few weeks. The final machine will be Arduino controlled, with 16 reaction wells, a heated lid, a ramp rate of 2 C/s, and can tweet or text you when it's done! With your support, the OpenPCR machine will be available in 3 months. The money will go towards R&D, third party testing, and optimization. We will release the open source design documents, software, parts list, kits, and instructions for you to make your own OpenPCR.
Who we are: Tito and Josh are biohackers from California. We're a part of the growing DIYbio and garage biotech movement. Tito was on the team that designed the Open Gel Box and a judge at the 2009 MIT iGEM Competition, and Josh previously engineered synthetic microbes for the photosynthetic production of biofuels.
We believe in making tools for biotechnology more accessible.