Innovation: Faster, Cheaper DNA Detection

September, 2010

Diagenetix – formed by UH graduate students Ryo Kuboto, Scott Shibata and Jimmy Saw – won first place at the 2010 UH Business Plan Competition for its DNA technology.

What is it?

Shibata says their technology detects specific genomic DNA faster and cheaper than existing, standard technology. Their chemical component is half the price, he says, and the machine just one-fifth. They plan to sell the machine for $1,200. “Our testing kits can diagnose infectious disease caused by both bacterial and virus infection,” says Kuboto. The kits can detect, for example, if the bacteria can resist certain antibiotics. That way, a doctor can prescribe more effective antibiotics.


What’s different?

Many standard DNA technologies need large, expensive equipment that requires three temperature changes in the chemical. “If you think about a cup of water and the reaction that is occurring in that cup of water, it has to heat up to a really high temperature, decrease to another temperature and then decrease to another temperature, and it has to continually fluctuate to do that,” says Shibata. “That makes the equipment piece that much more expensive and that much more complicated.”

Why is it better?

Diagenetix technology, created over four years by Kuboto and Dan Jenkins, an associate professor with the UH Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering Department, doesn’t require temperature changes for reactions to occur. This allows the machine to be built quicker and cheaper, Kuboto says.

What’s next?

Shibata says the prizes – including $10,000 in cash – are going “back into the company,” which is trying to gain exclusive rights to sell the equipment from the UH patent office. Shibata says the company plans to focus on selling to clinical labs that don’t already do DNA screening.

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Mark Brislin