A new project from people involved in the Californian DIYBio community is emerging to give garage biologists a new tool. OpenPCR is the name of a project launched just a few weeks ago and that has already risen the minimum amount of money its founders established as the threshold to start building it. The PCR, or Polymerase Chain Reaction, is a technique to copy and amplify a DNA sequence and an indispensable tool for many types of medical and biological research.
Based on the website kickstarter.com, the successful campaign has now collected more than 10.000 $ from 136 backers. OpenPCR is intended to give garage biologists and community labs an accessible and affordable tool for their researches and manipulations. OpenPCR will be controlled by Arduino boards and completely open source: design documents, software, parts list, kits, and instructions will be available for anybody to build his own OpenPCR for not more than 400$. The goal of its creators is to make OpenPCR available in 3 months.
Like many other garage biology projects, OpenPCR was born with a strong and explicit hacker and P2P attitude. “How are the Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, or Andy Warhol of biotech going to get their start if the simplest biotech tools cost so much?” the call on kickstarter.com states. Besides, part of the project is devoted to the analysis of the role of PCR patents in fostering – or slowing down? – innovation.
It is possible to can track the evolution of OpenPCR through a blog, and in a few days the funded project will start.