Bento Lab: An open source DNA laboratory for everybody on Kickstarter

By on March 26, 2016

Bento Lab is a DNA analysis laboratory. With Bento Lab, you can take a biological sample, extract its DNA, and conduct a simple genetic analysis. Bento Lab combines the essential tools for molecular biology, which are used by scientists everyday:

1 – A centrifuge extracts DNA from a biological sample
2 – A thermocycler targets a specific piece of DNA and make millions of copies
3 – An illuminated gel unit visualises the DNA by size and you interpret the results

With Bento Lab, you can conduct simple DNA analysis.

For example, you can explore your genetic make-up:

  • See if your taste buds detect bitter flavours by testing your variation of the PTC gene
  • Check if you are built for endurance by testing your variation of the “athlete” gene ACTN3
  • Explore how blood group genotyping works

You can examine your food at a molecular level

  • Test a hamburger to see if it contains horse meat
  • Identify genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and learn about genetic engineering

You can characterise biodiversity  

  • Forage for mushrooms and recognise the identity
  • Identify species with DNA barcoding 

Get research done

  • Equip your lab with functional, compact equipment
  • Collect samples in the field and check if you have enough DNA for sequencing
  • Combine DNA parts into circuits, and verify your result
  • Start an iGEM team at your high school, university, or science club …and much, much more!

Everything released as open source:

Over the years, we have benefitted immensely from the generosity and innovativeness of the Open Source, Open Science, DIYbio and Biocommons community. We stand on the shoulders of giants such as Hackteria, the fantastic OpenPCR project, the iGEM community, and many, many others.

We want to document the project well, so we are giving ourselves a runway. We are planning to release the firmware source code, the electronic specifications and CAD files of the functional device (more suitable for readily-available materials!) into the public domain by the end of 2016.

First in line is the source code and documentation of the beta devices. We have spent a long time to create a comprehensive, event-driven GUI system for the Teensy / Arduino board and we can’t wait to see how other projects can use this. Here are some examples (note that these are from the beta device screen, which has a much lower resolution compared to the new Bento Lab release).

Grasp your kit on the Kickstarter campaign page!

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