Check your DNA with your cellphone? Electrostatic analysis makes it possible

Genetic testing to see how susceptible you might be to things like baldness or cancer is pretty common. What you might not know is how involved the analysis can be — it needs fancy chemical labeling and sophisticated instruments, stuff that's not too common in undeveloped countries. Fortunately some smart scientists at Berkeley created a technique that uses electrostatic tech instead, which simplifies the whole shebang.

First, the DNA is prepared in a lab and put on a surface called a microarray, a relatively easy task. Then negatively charged microspheres are spread across the surface, which push themselves into clumps as they move away from the like-charged DNA (and RNA) areas. Not only is the technique simpler and less costly than current techniques, the researchers say the resulting clumps are big enough to be recorded by simple imaging devices, even a cellphone camera.

The new discovery could one day lead to super fast and easy genetic testing, sort of like those street-level DNA kiosks in Gattaca, but kind. At the very least it could bring genetic screening for disease to people who never had access to it before. Progress!

Berkeley Lab, via Smart Economy