November 23, 2010

Biosensor to detect fast-spreading viruses and bioterror agents

A new biosensor platform could enable rapid, point-of-care virus detection--and also pick up on bioterror agents:
Traditional virus diagnostic tools such as ELISA and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) remain strong diagnostic options, but they require significant infrastructure and sample preparation time. Now a team of researchers led by Boston University Assistant Professors Hatice Altug (ECE) and John Connor (Microbiology, BUSM) has introduced a novel biosensor that directly detects live viruses from biological media with little to no sample preparation.

Partly funded through the Boston University Photonics Center and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and working in collaboration with the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases, the team has demonstrated reliable detection of hemorrhagic fever virus surrogates (i.e. for the Ebola virus) and poxviruses (such as monkeypox or smallpox) in ordinary biological laboratory settings. The researchers report on this breakthrough in the November 5 online edition of Nano Letters.

“Our platform can be easily adapted for point-of-care diagnostics to detect a broad range of viral pathogens in resource-limited clinical settings at the far corners of the world, in defense and homeland security applications as well as in civilian settings such as airports,” said Altug. “By enabling ultra-portable and fast detection, our technology can directly impact the course of our reaction against bio-terrorism threats and dramatically improve our capability to confine viral outbreaks.”

No comments: