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UGA researchers use gold nanoparticles to diagnose flu in minutes
Date:8/3/2011

take your sample, put it in the instrument, hit a button and get your results."

Gold is often thought of as a costly metal, but the new diagnostic test uses such a small amountless than what would fit on the head of the pinthat the cost is one-hundredth of a cent per test.

The researchers noted that the current standard for definitively diagnosing flu is a test known as PCR, for polymerase chain reaction. PCR can only be done in highly specialized labs and requires that specially trained personnel incubate the sample for three days, extract the DNA and then amplify it many times. The entire process, from sample collection to result, takes about a week and is too costly for routine testing.

The alternative is a rapid test known as a lateral flow assay. The test is cost effective and can be used at the point-of-care, but it can't identify the specific viral strain. It also misses up to 50 percent of infections and is especially error-prone when small quantities of virus are present, Driskell added.

By overcoming the weaknesses of existing diagnostic tests, the researchers hope to enable more timely diagnoses that can help halt the spread of flu by accurately identifying infections and allowing physicians to begin treatment early, when antiviral drugs, such as Tamiflu, are most effective.

Tripp and Driskell are planning to compare the new diagnostic test with another that Tripp and his colleagues developed that measures the change in frequency of a laser as it scatters off viral DNA or RNA. Tripp also is working to adapt the new technique so that poultry producers can rapidly detect levels of salmonella in bath water during processing. Poultry is the largest agricultural industry in Georgia, he pointed out, so the technology could have a significant impact on the state's economy.

"This test offers tremendous advantages for influenza, but we really don't want to stop there," Tripp said. "Theoretically, all we have to
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Contact: Ralph Tripp
ratripp@uga.edu
706-542-1557
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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