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Product Watch: OpenPCR; Fluorogenics Taqtonix; Techne PrimePCR


London-based web retailer Cool Components said this week that it has begun selling OpenPCR, an ultra-cheap pre-fabricated kit for assembling a personal thermal cycler.

OpenPCR began as a startup venture of Bay Area amateur biologists Tito Jankowski and Josh Perfetto. Their goal was to design and develop an "open-source" thermal cycler that could be assembled from off-the-shelf components with a cost of around $500 to woo potentials customers such as fellow DIY biologists or schools.

In 2011, the duo successfully raised around $12,000 through to finish testing a prototype of their platform and to manufacture a working device (PCR Insider, 2/10/2011). Later that year, they began shipping OpenPCR kits to high schools, biotechnology companies, and hobbyists on five continents and 13 countries (PCR Insider, 7/14/2011).

This week, Cool Components announced that it would begin selling the kit for £480 ($729) — still less than one-tenth the cost of similar lab-grade machines. Assembly takes two to three hours, and the kit includes a full guide.

"As a company, we have a history of bringing cutting-edge components and equipment to the European market," Cool Components CEO Mat Fordy said in a statement. "We were one of the first selling affordable 3D printers, now we’re excited to be part of the new frontier of DIY and open source DNA research. The machine is perfect for schools and universities where money is tight."

Fluorogenics has launched Taqtonix lyophilized 96-well PCR master mix plates.

Like the company's Cyxi and Generix product families, Taqtonix plates contain ambient-storage, core PCR master mix pre-dispensed into 96-well unskirted PCR plates with 20-µl reaction volumes. Stable at room temperature for up to a year, the plates are compatible with a range of conventional and real-time PCR instruments including Life Technologies' ABI Prism 7300, 7500, and 7900 HT; Bio-Rad's Opticon, iCycler, MyiQ, and iQ5; and Agilent's Stratagene Mx3000 and Mx4000.

Techne has introduced a new Combi-block for its Prime PCR thermal cycler range of products.

The new block can accommodate 33 x 0.2-ml or 33 x 0.5-ml volume PCR tubes. The use of different-sized wells means a universal selection of consumables can be accommodated in the same instrument. In addition, the user may select an optional 25°C temperature gradient spread across 11 columns, the company said.