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Portable Zika Diagnostics Tool Can Rapidly & Accurately Detect Infection

FEB 28, 2017 | SARAH ANWAR
“The working principle of [the] device is that Zika viruses are first captured and isolated from a few drops of saliva/serum samples using magnetic beads functionalized with specific Anti-Zika Envelop antibodies. The isolated viruses are lysed using detergent, quickly. The virus lysis will change the conductivity of the solution which can be measured rapidly using impedance sensing. All the processing steps are done on a microfluidic device automatically. [The] device is made of plastic and paper, so its low-cost. It will take 15 minutes to do Zika testing using this platform and device,” Dr. Asghar told Contagion®.  
This new Zika diagnostics tool draws on technology that the researchers previously developed for HIV detection. The HIV tool uses paper and plastic materials, a “cassette-sized container” that holds up to 12 samples, and a “receptacle about the size of a tablet.” According to the researchers, this tool is not only cheap, but it can be easily developed, used, and disposed of.
According to the University’s press release, the researchers developed this new tool to “reduce the impact of the outbreak until a vaccine is identified.” The team received a seed grant from the FAU Institute for Sensing and Embedded Network Systems Engineering, which “significantly contributed to the development of [the] current device prototype,” according to Dr. Asghar. In addition, the research team recently received a 1-year grant of $199,280 from the Florida Department of Health to commercialize the device.
Looking towards future application of the technology, Dr. Asghar told Contagion®, “The detection platform can be adapted to other pathogens and viruses such as influenza, chikungunya, Dengue, [hepatitis] B and C viruses.”
With new findings suggesting that Zika virus causes a host of complications constantly coming to light, it is important now, more than ever, to be able to detect Zika virus infection rapidly, so as to take necessary precautions.
Dr. Asghar developed this diagnostics tool in collaboration with Massimo Caputi, PhD, co-principal investigator and associate professor of biomedical science at Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, and Mariano Gacria-Blanco, MD, PhD, professor and chair of biochemistry and molecular biology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.
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