Singapore scientists develop lab-on-chip bird flu tests
Researchers at the Institute of Bioengineering and
Nanotechnology (IBN), Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) and Genome
Institute of Singapore (GIS) have developed a device able to detect the H5N1
bird flu virus.
If successfully commercialized, the device could be used in affected
regions for pre-emptive surveillance of an avian influenza
According to project leader and lead author of the Nature Medicine
publication, IBN Research Scientist Dr Juergen Pipper, "With our device, medical
or humanitarian aid workers would be able to detect the presence of the H5N1
virus directly from throat swab samples on-site in less than half an
The device comprises a unique platform developed by IBN that uses magnetic
force to manipulate individual droplets containing silica-coated magnetic
"The novelty of our method lies in the way that the droplet itself becomes
a pump, valve, mixer, solid-phase extractor and real-time thermocycler. Complex
biochemical tasks can thus be processed in a fashion similar to that of a
traditional biological laboratory on a miniature scale," explained Pipper.
Apparently tests have shown that IBN's platform is as sensitive as, yet
considerably faster, than available tests, as well as notably cheaper.
* This research has been published in Nature Medicine (DOI: 10.1038/nm1634)
in a paper titled "Catching bird flu in a droplet."
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