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Biologists have created a DNA test that allows finding a cottage in Shawarma

Scientists from the Institute of RAS have developed an accurate method for identifying meat varieties, which will distinguish beef from horsemeat, and chicken from chicken.

The aim of our study was to develop a simple and cost-effective test – a variant of multi-primer PCR for the simultaneous determination of ten meat varieties in a sample. The developed test is carried out easily, quickly and cheaply. We have carried out all tests of its specificity, sensitivity and reproducibility

Olga Prusakova
Biologist of the RAS Institute

Molecular biologists from the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Pushchino have developed a simple and accurate method for identifying meat varieties, which will distinguish beef from horse meat, and chicken meat from chicken, according to an article published in the journal Meat Science.

“The aim of our study was to develop a simple and cost-effective test – a variant of multi-primer PCR for the simultaneous determination of ten meat varieties in a sample.This test is carried out easily, quickly and cheaply.We have carried out all tests of its specificity, sensitivity and reproducibility,” explained Olga Prusakova, one of the developers of a new method of diagnosis. Her words are given by the ITB RAS press service.Every time a person buys meat in the market or a meat dish in a restaurant, he ponders whether the contents of the package match what is written on it, and what dangers it may contain. Often, such fears deter people from buying or lead to conflicts.

Almost every month in the media, there are references to scandals related to the importation of inferior meat from Brazil, Argentina or Poland to Russia. Even large companies that produce fast food often fa supply of inferior raw materials. This generates stories similar to what happened in 2013, when the sanitary services of European countries found traces of horse meat in burgers from “beef”.

As Prusakova and her colleagues note, such trials would have been much more if sanitary workers had more effective, quick and cheap methods of searching for traces of “wrong” meat or determining its gradAccording to them, existing methods based on the analysis of either proteins or DNA have a number of significant drawbacks. Some of them can be carried out only in laboratories equipped with expensive equipment, which reduces the testing capabilities and increases the time and financial costs for it, while others do not have a sufficiently high sensitivity.

Scientists from the Institute of Theoretical and Experimental Biology of the Russian Academy of Sciences have developed a test that allows simultaneously determining the presence in the sample of ten varieties of meat. Half of them account for “edible” varieties, from beef to turkey, and the rest – to “exotic” types of protein raw materials, including cats or even human.

To carry out this analysis, you need one tube, pre-filled with the necessary ingredients, two hours of time and two scientific instruments – an electrophoresis chamber and a PCR amplifier – a special device that allows you to multiply fragments of DNA strands.

The species of meat, as scientists say, is determined by fragments of the so-called mitochondrial DNA – a special part of the genome, which is recorded not in the nucleus of the cell, but in the mitochondria, its “power plants.” Mitochondria are passed from mother to child, and their genome almost does not change with time, which allows reliably determine species and establish family ties.

Prusakova and her team have prepared several short DNA strings that allow them to “catch” even the smallest traces of mitochondria of nine species of animals and humans, propagate and identify them by electrophoresis. As the scientists note, their method is already patented and they hope that it will find wide application already in the near future.

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