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New field-deployable biosensor detects avian influenza virus in minutes instead of days
Date:9/27/2007

Quick identification of avian influenza infection in poultry is critical to controlling outbreaks, but current detection methods can require several days to produce results.

A new biosensor developed at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) can detect avian influenza in just minutes. In addition to being a rapid test, the biosensor is economical, field-deployable, sensitive to different viral strains and requires no labels or reagents.

We can do real-time monitoring of avian influenza infections on the farm, in live-bird markets or in poultry processing facilities, said Jie Xu, a research scientist in GTRIs Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL).

Worldwide, there are many strains of avian influenza virus that cause varying degrees of clinical symptoms and illness. In the United States, outbreaks of the disease primarily spread by migratory aquatic birds have plagued the poultry industry for decades with millions of dollars in losses. The only way to stop the spread of the disease is to destroy all poultry that may have been exposed to the virus.

A virulent strain of avian influenza (H5N1) has begun to threaten not only birds but humans, with more than 300 infections and 200 deaths reported to the World Health Organization since 2003. Looming is the threat of a pandemic, such as the 1918 Spanish flu that killed about 40 million people, health officials say.

With so many different virus subtypes, our biosensors ability to detect multiple strains of avian influenza at the same time is critical, noted Xu.

To test the biosensor, the researchers assessed its ability to detect two avian influenza strains that previously infected poultry. The results showed that a solution containing very few virus particles could be detected by the sensor.

Xu tested a third strain of the virus as a control. When the sensor coating was modified to collect only the other two strains, the control str
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Contact: Abby Vogel
avogel@gatech.edu
404-385-3364
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert

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