A cornerstone of molecular and synthetic biology is the manipulation of cells to suit a particular need. Electroporation is a procedure routinely conducted by bioengineering labs across the world to induce uptake of DNA, RNA, and proteins due to its increased efficiency and easier/faster protocols. However, the cost of electroporators has presented a barrier for their incorporation into many research groups, from high schools to university labs, hindering the usage of an incredibly powerful tool.
As electroporators rely on complex electronic circuits to delivery
high-voltage pulses, they are bulky, expensive (cost thousands of dollars), and require access to electricity. But what if there was a way to achieve the same form of pulse generation but at a fraction of the cost?
A tool used by people across the world every single day has presented itself as the solution to this problem: the piezoelectric gas lighter. Inspired by the principles of frugal science, the 20-cent ElectroPen harnesses the underlying mechanism found within the lighter to generate short, high-voltage pulses to allow for successful electroporation. We demonstrate successful bacterial transformations on Escherichia coli with plasmids encoding constitutive expression of the Green Fluorescent Protein as a proof-of-concept, and will be furthering its development into new, broader applications towards global health.
Join our frugal science community to utilize innovation and experimentation to uncover the hidden mysteries of the world around us, and discover new applications for the ElectroPen in enabling accessible and affordable electroporation in high schools, community and research labs, and even for field biology.
Read the full paper on bioRxvi: https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/12/21/448977
Vision for the Future
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If you would like to work with us on collaborations with the ElectroPen, or even simply wish to learn more, please feel free to contact us and we look forward to hearing from you.