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February 28, 1996

Russian and US Researchers Develop 'Biochips' for Faster, Inexpensive Biomedical Tests

JAMA. 1996;275(8):581-582. doi:10.1001/jama.1996.03530320009004

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RUSSIAN AND US researchers at Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Ill, are working together to develop tiny "biochips" that may revolutionize the way laboratories decode DNA sequences and perform pathologic studies and clinical tests.

According to the researchers, thousands of biochemical sensors for various DNA sequences, antibodies, peptides, or other biomedically significant markers can be packed onto a single biochip the size of an electronic microchip and read automatically by computer.

The project is headed by Andrei D. Mirzabekov, PhD, director of Argonne's Human Genome Project in the Center for Mechanistic Biology and also director of the Russian Academy of Sciences' W. A. Englehardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow. Mirzabekov, who is dividing his time equally between the two centers, says the biochip was developed to greatly speed up the international effort to sequence the entire human genome.

However, its applications are more far-reaching. For example, the technology can be