UW engineers working on breakthrough in DNA research

SEATTLE -- University of Washington engineers have created a new DNA device that could give clues to cold cases or cancer research, and it's getting worldwide attention.

UW engineers and representatives from a spin-off company called Nanofacture say their invention holds the key to decoding DNA in record time.

Experts say the device could be a breakthrough in the micro-science of DNA.

The new device allows researchers to go from swab to sample to a story of the human genome within two or three minutes. That's no easy task when a piece of DNA is one millionth the size of a drop of water.

Right now, most scientists spin and separate DNA, often using toxic chemicals. But the new device from the UW doesn't use those chemicals and takes a fraction of the time by sending an electronic signal to attract polarized pieces of DNA.

The goal is to give hospitals, research labs and forensic investigators the data they need, and quickly.

"There are lots of innovation in this small technology that will help improve our health care and then reduce the cost," said UW engineer Jae Chung.