The Ebola virus seems to be screaming from the headlines and is on everyone’s minds lately. The human death toll in Western Africa is tragic and each day’s news stories bring greater fears of it spreading. You may have heard about new disease detection techniques related to the Ebola virus and possibly even DNA amplification and cloning. What is not commonly known is the role thermoelectric coolers play in these headline-grabbing medical stories. Today’s blog provides a little background into biomedical technology, in particular, the process of polymerase chain reaction (PCR). II-VI Marlow supports this technology through the development and production of thermocycling products.
Thermoelectric coolers support virus detection using PCR
PCR is a biomedical technique used to amplify DNA samples, taking small DNA pieces and generating up to a billion copies of the DNA strand. Dr. Kary Mullis, who was later awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his efforts, developed this process in 1983. PCR is used today to aid in drug discovery, to diagnose hereditary and infectious diseases, and to assist with analysis in the forensic sciences (You may have seen it used on the CBS crime show “CSI”). Recent developments have led to using PCR to detect the Ebola virus, providing results in about one hour. The PCR process requires thermal cycling of the DNA samples, through defined temperature ranges, with dwell times at specific temperatures. Most PCR equipment, commonly called thermocyclers, use thermoelectric coolers to achieve the heating, cooling, and dwell temperatures that are required.
II-VI Marlow has been supplying thermocycler manufacturers for over 20 years. We specifically design thermoelectric modules to withstand the thermal stresses induced by thermal cycling. In fact, the PCR application is one of the most demanding applications in the thermoelectric market, so we do extensive testing on our thermocycling coolers. Here is a timeline to show how II-VI Marlow has perfected our thermocycling coolers for the molecular biology industry:
• 1993: Marlow begins selling coolers into the PCR market.
•2004: Marlow introduces the XLT line of coolers intended specifically for the PCR market. This product line has developed an industry-best reputation for quality and reliability.
• 2006: Marlow begins assembling thermocycler systems for leading PCR manufacturers.
• 2014: Marlow introduces the LCC line of PCR coolers, providing very good cycling life, at a reduced cost. Qualification test data is available and samples for testing can be provided. II-VI Marlow uses an accelerated test method that typically accumulates approximately 3,000 cycles per day. Sample cycling test data for two of our popular product lines is shown below.
• The new LCC product line is held to rigorous, on-going testing, with a 1.3% AC Resistance (ACR) change after 350,000 cycles.
• The XLT product line has test results showing a 2.9 % ACR change at 1 million cycles.
Thermocycler manufacturing requires careful attention to the manufacturing process, as the thermoelectric coolers are integrated into an assembly that has very demanding thermal uniformity requirements. Marlow provides manufacturing assembly for many different PCR manufacturers, providing test and thermal uniformity measurements on 100% of product prior to shipment. Our equipment features industry-leading performance, providing high-quality reliability to the medical community. We take great pride in the knowledge that our thermocycling coolers are being used to diagnose and help solve one of the most significant medical crises around the globe today.
Ready to get started on a custom project? Contact II-VI Marlow today.