By Bernadette Toner

A team of researchers at Boston University is developing a microfluidic chip using a PCR alternative, claiming it could serve as the basis for low-cost, handheld molecular diagnostics for use in global health environments.

The key to the system is helicase-dependent amplification, an isothermal amplification method that is similar to PCR in many ways but does not require a thermal cycler, and is therefore more suitable for in-field use.

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