BOSTON (11-22-10) -- Boston University researchers have developed a simple diagnostic tool that can quickly identify dangerous viruses like Ebola and Marburg. The biosensor, which is the size of a quarter and can detect viruses in a blood sample, could be used in developing nations, airports and other places where natural or man-made outbreaks could erupt.
"By enabling ultra-portable and fast detection, our technology can directly impact the course of our reaction against bio-terrorism threats and dramatically improve our capability to confine viral outbreaks," said Assistant Professor Hatice Altug of the Boston University College of Engineering, who co-led the research team with Assistant Professor John Connor of the Boston University School of Medicine.
Traditional virus diagnostic tools are effective, but require significant infrastructure and sample preparation time. The new biosensor developed at Boston University directly detects live viruses from biological media with little to no sample preparation. The breakthrough is detailed in the Nov. 5 online edition of Nano Letters.
From bird flu to H1N1, outbreaks of fast-spreading viral diseases in recent years have sparked concern of pandemics similar to the 1918 Spanish Flu that caused more than 50 million deaths. A significant fraction of today's viral threats are viruses that use RNA to replicate. Individuals infected with these viruses often show symptoms that are not virus-specific, making them difficult to diagnose. Among them are hemorrhagic fever viruses, such as Ebola and Marburg, which could be used as bio-warfare agents. Critical to identifying and containing future epidemics of RNA-based viruses is the development of rapid, sensitive diagnostic techniques that healthcare providers can quickly deploy so that infected individuals can be quickly identified and treated.
Partly funded through the Boston University Photonics Center and the U.S. Army Research Labo
|Contact: Mike Seele|
Boston University College of Engineering