Zika Virus News: Two-dollar Portable Testing Device Developed

By Elizabeth Anderson, Parent Herald July 08, 06:35 am
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There is a new low-cost, portable and rapid Zika testing device that has been developed by engineers from the University of Pennsylvania. The study concerning the working mechanism of the device was published in the journal Analytical Chemistry.

According to a report from Nature World News, the device is as large as a soda can. It only costs $2 and does need electricity to work. Once a saliva sample is placed into the device, a dye will turn to blue if the presence of the Zika virus is detected by a genetic assay.

Zika Testing Device More Efficient

The testing device is said to be "more efficient" in testing the molecular structure of samples and of the Zika virus, according to a report from Gizmag. The testing device uses the reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) which only a sample to be kept at one specific temperature. This is said to be a step forward from traditional genetic testing that often needs multiple copies of the sample and several temperature changes.

The report also said that the $2 testing device is different because it is designed to detect genetic material from the Zika virus instead of the antibodies that fight the virus. The latter can reportedly lead to inaccurate results because not enough antibodies may have been produced when the patient was tested or the patient may have produced antibodies for a different disease.

More Studies Needed For Zika Device

"Our work represents a proof of concept at this stage," according to Professor Haim Bau, as per EurekAlert. Bau was one of those who conducted the study. Bau is from the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics in the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science.

It reportedly takes 40 minutes for the test to be completed once the saliva sample is placed into the device's cartridge containing the assay. "Before the assay can be adapted for medical use, we must experiment with patients' samples and make assure that our assay and system match the performance of the gold standard and operate reproducibly and reliably," Bau said. 

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