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Image of COVID-19 and DNA Helix for article on COVID testing.
Published On: June 8th, 2021
In 1868 – 69, Friedrich Miescher studied proteins when he noticed that the addition of acid caused a precipitate to form that would then dissolve when alkali was added. He recognized that the precipitate had to come from the nuclei of cells, and he began to look more closely at the substances in cell nuclei. Miescher’s first protocol for extracting nucleic acids (which he named due to their presence in the cell nucleus and precipitation with acid solutions) took many weeks from start to finish.

Thanks to scientific advances, 150 years later, laboratory automation allows scientists to perform automated DNA extraction with higher resultant concentrations and greater purity in as little as 20 minutes.

Read on to find out how automation of DNA and RNA extraction has revolutionized the laboratory.

Modern Steps of DNA and RNA Extraction

Extracting and purifying DNA generally requires four steps.

  1. Disrupting the cell membrane or wall and the nuclear membrane;
  2. Denaturing the nucleic acid-protein complexes found in the nucleus;
  3. Inactivating DNases that will break up and destroy the DNA molecule; and
  4. Removing contaminants such as proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates.

RNA extraction is more difficult because single-stranded RNA is naturally less stable than the double-strands of DNA. Because RNA will degrade very quickly on its own, special steps must be performed quickly and accurately to ensure the RNA has been stabilized.

Benefits of Automated DNA Extraction

When performing experiments requiring DNA extraction, it is vital to obtain purified DNA samples with no proteins, enzymes, or other contaminants.

Automated DNA extraction using DNA extraction robots is the only way to ensure that consistently pure DNA is extracted from nearly any sample in sufficient qualities to allow for effective testing and analysis. The older DNA extraction kits were quite prone to human error, leading to inaccurate results and wasted time, money, and materials.

Quite simply, using an automated DNA extraction machine produces consistent and reproducible results with improved speed, accuracy, and reliability while minimizing the risk of contamination.

COVID-19 Testing using Automated DNA/RNA Extraction

Given the persistence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, there are more than 16,000,000 COVID-19 tests performed worldwide every single day. The only way to ensure that everyone who needs to be tested can receive rapid, accurate, and low-cost testing is through the use of automation. Automatic DNA extraction provides all of this.

By using automatic DNA extraction, viral RNA can be extracted and identified from the nasal swabs of those undergoing SARS-CoV-2 testing. This method of using modified automatic DNA extraction has proven to provide the rapid, reliable, and cost-efficient testing necessary to keep up with the extraordinary demand for testing. The DNA extraction robot is able to perform the testing with smaller sample sizes and without any risk of catching COVID-19 or human error, providing false results.

Given the benefits of automatic DNA extraction for the accurate testing of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA, there is no reason for any laboratory with interest in COVID-19 testing or experimentation to put off procuring an automated DNA extraction machine.

The initial expenditures are rapidly offset by substantially lower costs long-term. Those labs trying to perform clinical testing for or understand COVID-19 using standard DNA extraction kits and human technicians will lag so far behind the labs with automation.Contact Hudson Robotics today to request a consultation, to learn more about our Automatic DNA Extraction equipment, or to see how we can help you with a host of automation options to meet all of your laboratory needs.