Researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health recently developed a rapid Ebola detection tool that creates an automated lab on a single chip.
The health community learned many lessons throughout the Ebola virus outbreak in West Africa, including how desperately field clinics located in remote settings require a fast, easy, accurate diagnostic test.
There are several point-of-care tests are currently being developed. One is a chip that contains an automated lab. This hybrid system unites microfluidics to prepare samples with optofluidics, creating a viral detection. This method quickly detects Ebola when it is in the bloodstream of people who have the virus.
The chip requires a single drop of genomic material taken from cells infected with Ebola and placed into the chip. The technology routes the sample throughout various steps to sort through the genetic material. The material is then bound to the coordinating synthetic sequences within magnetic microbeads inside the chip. Then a tiny magnet gathers the microbeads and other molecules, isolating Ebola RNA with fluorescent markers, which are sorted with optofluidic chips. The light then reads the sequences to diagnose the patient.
The technology inside labs-on-chips must combined chemistry, biology, and electronics within a space of only a few millimeters. This latest invention is a two-chip system, involving multidisciplinary groups of scientists and allowing physicians to use the chips together or side by side.
In addition, this method can draw the distinction between Ebola and similar Sudan and Marburg viruses. This suggests that the method may be used to diagnose other infectious diseases in the future.
Further details are available in Nature Scientific Reports.