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article imageGold nanoparticles used to rapidly detect Ebola

By Tim Sandle     Mar 18, 2017 in Science
While the Ebola pandemic in West Africa was eventually tackled the risk remains that the viral disease will re-emerge. To better equipped a new diagnostic method has been developed to allow for the rapid detection of the disease.
The new test requires a urine sample to screen for Ebola virus. The researchers suggest the test is faster than those currently available and, importantly for the developing world, more cost-effective. The test has been developed by biochemists and virologists at the University at Albany.
Ebola virus disease describes the disease caused by five known Ebola viruses. The name of the viral grouping derives from Ebola River in Republic of the Congo, which was close to where the first case of the virus was detected back in 1976. As Digital Journal has reported, Ebola is a serious viral infection with a high mortality rate. Symptoms include bleeding from mucous membranes and puncture sites. If the infected person does not recover, death due to multiple organ dysfunction syndrome occurs.
The diagnostic method was developed by Mehmet Yigit and it uses biological markers and gold nanoparticles to screen for virus particles. When the virus is present, the urine sample will turn red to indicate infection or it will turn purple to indicate no infection. It only takes a few hours to provide a result (current Ebola screening methods, based on gene sequencing, take several days to provide a result).
Gold discs from the Gold Museum in Bogotá  Colombia
Gold discs from the Gold Museum in Bogotá, Colombia
Flickr user Nick Leonard
The test works through the gold nanoparticles being functionalized with DNA receptors. These receptors bind to Ebola biomarkers and trigger a chain reaction. As Professor Yigit told Bioscience Technology: “The chain reaction will retain the original wine-red color of the nanoparticles, however if the Ebola biomarkers are absent, the chain reaction does not happen the nanoparticles change their color to purple.”
The test result is revealed through a method called absorbance spectroscopy. This measures the amount of light absorbed by the infected sample at a set wavelength. To verify the method, 25 urine samples containing four biomarkers associated with Ebola were screened. Accurate results were obtained for 24 out of the 25 samples.
As well as demonstrating accuracy and rapidity, the developed method is relatively inexpensive. In addition it does not require expensive equipment. This makes the new test suitable for resource limited regions.
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The findings have been published in Advanced Healthcare Materials. The research paper is titled “Virus Biomarkers: Rapid Visual Screening and Programmable Subtype Classification of Ebola Virus Biomarkers.”
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