Medical Equipment Research and Development Division (MERADD) is an R&D center of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission which is located in Lahore.
MERADD has successfully developed the state of the art Programmable Thermal Cyclers for carrying out the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). PCR is a revolutionary invention which is used to multiply the DNA segments at the exponential rate.
The image below is adopted from the Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org). In DNA replication, the double helix is un-zipped, then each separated strand acts as a template for replicating a new partner strand (green), synthesizing two new double helices.
This biochemical technology can be employed for screening genetic disorders and identifying cancer and pathogens. The programmable thermal cycler PTC-15 (developed at the MERADD) is designed to perform a highly accurate PCR. It employs an assembly, a heated cover and an internal computer with a control algorithm.
The assembly is made up of a sample block, Peltier thermoelectric devices and a heat sink. MERADD is the sole manufacturer of PCR machines in Pakistan. Below is a picture of the state of the art programmable thermal cycler PTC-15, developed and manufactured by the MERADD. PTC-15 is a high quality low cost machine.
Performance of MERADD PCR machines is as good as that of imported machines, but price of MERADD PCR machines is less than 40% of the imported machines. Higher import charges increase further the price of the imported machines in comparison with MERADD PCR machines.
In case of imported machines, repair and maintenance charges are very high in comparison with MERADD PCR machines. MERADD provides quick and cheap repair and maintenance to its clients throughout the country.
Conventional PCR machines as described above provide only qualitative DNA amplification results. R&D on the advanced PCR machine, called Real Time PCR, is underway at MERADD.
Real Time PCR machines give the quantitative results of DNA amplification. It is expected that R&D phase of Real Time PCR machine will be complete in two years of period.
Authors: Tayyab Ahmed Shakeel, Zulfiqar Ahmad, Mukhtar Ahmed Rana
MERADD, Multan Road, Lahore