THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Chip-based technology directly and reliably detects Ebola virus

Chip technology directly and reliably detects Ebola virus | Courtesy of waterandhealth.org
Researchers from the University of California-Santa Cruz recently created a chip-based technology that is designed to reliably and directly detect the Ebola virus and other viral pathogens.

Currently, the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method is the best for diagnosing Ebola by detecting the virus’s genetic material through direct optical detection to locate viral molecules. The new system unites two small chips: one is a microfluidic chip used for sample preparation, and the other is an optofluidic chip used for optical detection.

For more than a decade, the team has been designing optofluidic chip technology to analyze single molecules as they cross a small, fluid-filled channel on the chip. This system can be made into a portable, simple instrument that can be used in field situations where simplicity is crucial. These environments need rapid, accurate detection systems for Ebola infections to control outbreaks, and this technology could revolutionize the medical industry’s detection approaches.

"Compared to our system, PCR detection is more complex and requires a laboratory setting," Holger Schmidt, the study's senior author and the Kapany Professor of Optoelectronics at UC-Santa Cruz, said. "We're detecting the nucleic acids directly, and we achieve a comparable limit of detection to PCR and excellent specificity."

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