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article imageNanotechnology helps contain Ebola

By Tim Sandle     Oct 14, 2014 in Science
One problem affecting the containment of Ebola is the cost and complexity of diagnosing the disease when a patient is first seen. As a way forwards, researchers have developed a rapid, photonic device that can provide simple and accurate detection.
To diagnose Ebola, conventional fluorescent label-based virus detection methods require advanced laboratory equipment, complex sample preparation, transport and processing times, and extensive training to use. This does not make for a practical method to use in the affected countries in West Africa.
As an alternative, researchers at Boston University’s College of Engineering and the School of Medicine have developed a rapid, label-free, chip-scale photonic device that can provide simple, and accurate on-site detection. The device requires minimal sample preparation time and provides results in about an hour. A short sample handling and process time helps to reduce the risk to health workers.
The device is a type of single particle interferometric reflectance imaging sensor (SP-IRIS). According to a research note, the sensor detects pathogens by shining light from multi-color LED sources on viral nanoparticles bound to the sensor surface by a coating of virus-specific antibodies. Interference of light reflected from the surface is adjusted by the presence of the particles. This produces a distinct signal that reveals the size and shape of each particle. The sensor surface is very large and can capture speciifc responses of up to a million nanoparticles.
In recent studies, the researchers have demonstrated the ability of the device to detect multiple viruses in blood serum samples. This included viruses genetically modified to mimic the behavior of Ebola and the Marburg virus.
The research has been published in the journal ACS Nano. The paper is headed “Digital Sensing and Sizing of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Pseudotypes in Complex Media: A Model for Ebola and Marburg Detection.”
More about Nanotechnology, Ebola, Containment, Virus
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