Nobel Prize Winning Science In Your Classroom!
The invention of the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) radically changed biology. The technique was considered so important that the Nobel Prize was awarded to its inventor, Kary Mullis, in 1993.
Thanks to this technique, very small samples of DNA (from as little as a single cell) can be analyzed. PCR works by making billions of copies of DNA in just a few hours. PCR is now routinely used in forensic investigations, infectious disease testing and screening for genetic disease. Amazingly, without harming it, a single cell can be removed from an 8-cell human embryo to test for many different genetic diseases at once. (Although these types of tests can raise many ethical issues.)
PCR is the systematic copying (or amplifying) of a target sequence of DNA using DNA polymerase from the heat stable bacteria Thermus aquaticus (Taq). The target sequence is located in the genome using primers. Primers are short pieces of DNA that are complementary to the ends of the target sequence. The DNA, primers and Taq DNA polymerase are mixed together, then cycled through three temperatures. This causes the DNA to be amplified. Originally, this was carried out by painstakingly moving tubes from waterbath to waterbath. Now, this is carried out using a thermal cycler or PCR machine. Following amplification, the DNA is then analyzed using electrophoresis.
In this section, you will find kits to teach PCR to suit all student abilities and all budgets. With our Ready-to-Load™ kits, you can demonstrate the concept of PCR without using a thermal cycler! Alternatively, your students can try amplifying their own DNA.
We have developed purpose-built and affordable PCR machines for the classroom, the EdvoCycler™ and the MegaCycler™. Details of the EdvoCycler™ and MegaCycler™ can be found in the equipment section.
Give your students the opportunity to perform this Nobel Prize winning technique!