August 5, 2002
Researchers at the University of California report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences a new method for detecting DNA, which could transform medical diagnostics. Currently, tests for the presence of DNA--to identify, for instance, the presence of a bacterium such as anthrax, or a virus, or a specific gene--require that the DNA be amplified or grown. The UCSB researchers combine the use of a lightemitting polymer with peptide nucleic acid (PNA) probes to make a test so sensitive that the costly DNA amplification can be reduced and perhaps eliminated.