About this project
Our Kickstarter campaign has ended. You can now visit www.minipcr.com to order the miniPCR machine, lab supplies, kits, and soon the miniPCR DNA Discovery System.
See what miniPCR users are saying through these testimonials, and read:
MassBio | Marie Szaniszlo for Boston Herald | Alia Qatarneh from Harvard LSO | EDC Newsroom | MassChallenge | MassBioEd | Haitian Bioscience Initiative | BioCoder | GenomeWeb | BostInno | Mashable | Techwallah | BetaBoston
We live in a DNA world. DNA technology helps us diagnose disease, understand our ancestry and origins, establish guilt or innocence in our justice system, and test the water and food we consume every day. Yet DNA technology is still a black box for most of us.
We've created miniPCR to open the world of DNA science to everyone, everywhere.
This is the miniPCR DNA Discovery System:
To prepare, amplify (copy), and visualize your DNA: With the DNA Family Tree kit, extract your own DNA and make so many million copies of it (in miniPCR) that you’ll see it shine before your eyes (with miniPCR visualizer).
Real-world biotech applications: Learn how DNA can be used to identify people, to detect bacteria in our food, to clone pieces of DNA from one organism into another, and more.
Learn more about the world around you: Engage in citizen science projects such as DNA barcoding, sushi-gate, detect food mislabeling, and (as you get more advanced) use PCR to characterize and discover new animals, plants, and fungi.
How DNA replication works (in our cells and in test tubes): PCR and our software will teach you how the chemistry of DNA allows our cells (and our miniPCR machines) to propagate genetic information.
The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is at the heart of DNA analysis. PCR is a Nobel-winning technology that lets us make billions of copies of a specific piece of DNA that can be used for genetic analysis.
DNA testing and analysis kits everyone can use.
Get miniPCR for yourself, but don't forget to give one to a school. Help us equip these public schools with DNA technology:
Schools can now access a case full of DNA technology:
With the miniPCR DNA Discovery System:
YOU can take DNA science into your own hands, and share it with your kids.
OUR SCHOOLS can teach essential biotechnology and discovery.
EVERY LAB in the globe can have access to fundamental DNA analysis tools.
In the past few months, we have made and sold more than one hundred miniPCR machines that have been in use by scientists and students in four continents.
You choice of:
- The complete miniPCR DNA Discovery System (including a miniPCR Machine)
- Or just the miniPCR machine (if you already own Pipetting Tools, Gel Electrophoresis, and Visualizer).
Don't forget to add-on one or more DNA Testing Kits which contain all necessary reagents to do the labs!
The Amplyus team is led by Ezequiel (Zeke) Alvarez Saavedra and Sebastian Kraves. We met >15 years ago in college, where we shared the dream of becoming DNA scientists. Lacking access to lab tools, we learned DNA science mostly from lectures and textbooks. It wasn't ideal, but we fell in love with modern biology. After getting our PhDs at Harvard and MIT, we realized that we could create tools to give everyone access to the world of DNA science and discovery.
Amplyus is currently at the MassChallenge accelerator amidst other like-minded startups that strive to have a positive impact in our world.
Zeke Alvarez Saavedra, PhD, is a geneticist trained at MIT. His work
has been cited thousands of times and profiled in The New York Times,
National Public Radio and the BBC. Zeke is a patented and licensed inventor of gene-detection technologies.
Sebastian Kraves, PhD, is a molecular neurobiologist trained at Harvard. He has spent more than six years with the Boston Consulting Group addressing high-impact problems in healthcare, such as access to diagnostic technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Sebastian has also published on neural circuits, optogenetics, and the genetic regulation of behavior.
miniPCR comes out of the box and into the palm of your hand!
miniPCR will give you access to the full power and quality of a professional grade DNA lab instrument. If you're an experienced PCR user, you'll love its simplicity and convenience. If you're new to DNA analysis, miniPCR and its software will make it incredibly easy to learn.
Powerful. miniPCR delivers the same powerful genetic analysis as 10-times larger, $3,000-$10,000 instruments used by biomedical professionals.
Portable. 2 x 5 x 4 inches, so you can take your science with you, or conveniently put miniPCR away when not in use.
Simple. Easy to control directly from your Android device or Mac/Windows computer through the miniPCR app.
Ready to use. Requires no assembly. Simply plug into your computer, smartphone, or tablet. Or just flick it ON (miniPCR will store its program in memory).
Engaging. Through the app, visualize experiments and understand DNA science in real time. Through the clear case, see and understand how miniPCR works.
Affordable. At one-tenth the cost of commercial PCR machines, miniPCR is within the reach of homes, schools, and every lab budget.
The miniPCR software makes DNA science more intuitive. It's easy to program and monitor PCR conditions in real time, and export and share data for verification and analysis. It works on Android, MacOS, and Windows, and it's free with miniPCR.
Newcomers more easily grasp the underlying science
Professional users enjoy the convenience of programming, storing, and monitoring experiments on their own phone or computer
To help you get up and running, we've created these DNA testing kits:
- DNA Food Safety Lab
- Forensic DNA Crime Lab
- DNA Family Tree (see the schematic below)
miniPCR kits come with detailed instructions and have already been used by dozens of teachers and hundreds of students from middle school to college.
If the campaign meets our stretch goal, we will create a GMO detection lab to test whether your food has been genetically engineered.
It's 2014. More than 60 years since Watson and Crick's double helix, and more than ten since we've sequenced the human genome. Yet it's still hard to teach DNA science in our schools. Science is best learned by doing it, but biotech equipment available today is complex, expensive, and hardly education-friendly.
We're out to change that. We won't stop until every kid has access to the exciting world of biotech experimentation and the opportunities it creates.
Your pledge will help transform the landscape of science education through our technology, lesson plans, and teacher support.
Why? Just listen to Howard Goldsweig, MD, Biology teacher at The Codman Academy Public Charter School, a Boston inner city school:
In PCR, small DNA sequences called primers search the millions or billions of letters in the genome for the target gene (or DNA region), in the same way that Google searches for a specific set of words in the World Wide Web. During PCR, that target DNA of interest is amplified or copied billions of times, in the same way that a small snippet of text can be broadcast widely using Twitter. To learn how PCR works watch the brief primer below.
Our DNA Discovery System includes everything you'll need for steps 1, 2, and 3. We'll guide and support you if you've never done it before.
miniPCR will allow you to learn, discover, and explore in new ways:
- Contribute to citizen science projects: DNA barcoding, sampling biodiversity, detecting food mislabeling, and more...
- Make a billion copies of any gene from any organism
- Understand more about yourself and the world around us
WHAT ELSE CAN SCIENTISTS DO WITH PCR? The range of DNA detection and modification experiments that doctors and scientists can do with PCR is virtually limitless. Copying DNA has countless applications; this wiki cites a few. PCR can be used to read genes, to detect infections (Ebola, HIV, malaria, many more), and to solve crimes. It can also just bring joy into the lives of biology nerds like us.
DISCLAIMER: We make miniPCR available to homes and schools for research and educational purposes only, and we offer it only with that intent. We believe that as more of us better understand DNA technology, society will be better equipped to make collective and individual decisions related to DNA analysis. We do not make/market/endorse miniPCR for use as a diagnostic or medical tool by laypersons, as we believe that people seeking to make medical decisions should be appropriately supported by medical professionals.
We are serious about science and education -- we love to experiment, but the last thing we’d do is experiment with you. miniPCR has gone through 10 prototypes, 3 beta versions, and one full year of validation of the final design in research labs and classrooms.
Out of MIT, Zeke worked with a team at Templeman Automation. The team that undertook development and built the first prototype was formed by Zeke, Chris Templeman, Sean Jeffries, Cameron Dube, Dave Thomas, Randy Creasi, and Michael White. We open sourced the design. Early on the team received input from Josh Perfetto and Mac Cowell, who shared ideas and expertise. Thanks to you all!
Sebastian and Zeke decided to found Amplyus to further develop and validate the technology and bring it into manufacturing scale, making miniPCR machines available to everyone, everywhere.
We are now ready to bring miniPCR into full-scale production. Your pledge will help us set up our manufacturing operations locally in Massachusetts, creating jobs and helping lower production cost. It will also help us finalize development of our gel electrophoresis and visualization system.
Risks and challenges
The primary risk this campaign faces is the timely and efficient procurement of parts, components, and tools needed to manufacture at a larger scale. Luckily, we've spent the last year working with the same supply chain partners, getting to know them, and ensuring their quality and commitment meets ours. We are proud to be working with many local machine shops and suppliers that meet stringent specifications. That said, sourcing components can be a source of delays.
The second risk we'll face is the transition from small-batch production in our own hands to full-scale manufacturing. We've done a number of things to ensure a smooth hand-off. We have identified a local factory right here, in Massachusetts. This will allow us to work closely with our partners to get production rolling (while creating jobs!). Together, we have established standard processes, a quality control and testing plan, and we will soon run a production pilot.
The final challenge will be in working closely with our supporters to keep translating advanced concepts in DNA science into experiences accessible to a broad audience. This is the reason we started this company, and a challenge that we readily embrace.
Some may ask whether there are collateral risks with putting DNA technology into the hands of more people. Can miniPCR fall into the wrong hands and give birth to synthetic species that will colonize earth overnight? Extremely unlikely (sorry to disappoint). First off, it takes years of blood, sweat, and tears by entire teams of highly overtrained biologists to deliver any meaningful genetic transformation. Secondly, any evildoers lurking in the biosphere have access to laboratory tools already capable of doing the same genetic tricks as miniPCR (they are just much more expensive). All this said, we encourage everyone to explore biotechnology with the same spirit of exploration and curiosity that every scientist embodies. With great genetic power comes great responsibility. We believe that the greater risk lies in misinformation and ignorance, not in the dissemination of knowledge.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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