Form 9.B Project Summary

Chron: 971681

Proposal Number: 09.01-1100

Project Title: Miniature PCR/ Fluorogenic DNA Probe Biosensor for Space


Technical Abstract (Limit 200 words)

SPEC, in collaboration with Dr. Carl Batt of Cornell University, has developed a design for a miniature biosensor capable of performing PCR and fluorometry in a single compact chamber for target amplification, detection and identification. In the Phase I, SPEC will construct a breadboard instrument for use in demonstrating proof of concept of this novel device for molecular biology, environmental, and medical applications in space. SPEC and Dr. Batt will explore the use of DNA probes with fluorogenic direct hybridization and PCR-based assays for detection and quantification of DNA, RNA, and oligonucleotides in a microgravity environment. These two distinct nucleic acid chemistries both have as the basis for their detection a reduction in the quenching of the intact probe molecule when the target template is present. In both formats, a fluorescent reporter dye covalently linked to an oligonucleotide probe is quenched by a second dye molecule also attached to the probe. The release of quenching, due to either the unfolding of the probe or the hydrolysis of the probe, is measured by fluorometry and is quantitative. The prototype instrument to be built in the Phase II will be small (3inx3inx5in), low power, low weight, and self-contained for use in microgravity.

Potential Commercial Applications (Limit 200 words)

The development of a small, highly sensitive, DNA probe instrument capable of providing rapid results has significant commercial applications as home diagnostic devices, medical research tools, food processing monitors, clinical instruments and environmental detectors as well as for NASA and the Department of Defense. DNA probes can provide high specificity in the detection of genes, pathogens, and environmentally hazardous biological organisms. This instrument will combine the specificity of DNA probes with the sensitivity of PCR amplified fluorometry.

Name and Address of Principal Investigator (Name,

Organization Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip)

Robert C. Chin, Ph.D.

Systems & Processes Engineering Corp.

401 Camp Craft Road

Austin , TX 78746-6558

Name and Address of Offeror (Firm Name, Mail Address,


James McNeal

Systems & Processes Engineering Corp.

401 Camp Craft Road

Austin , TX 78746-6558