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 pandemic.
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 hour.”
The device comprises a unique platform developed by IBN that uses magnetic force to manipulate individual droplets containing silica-coated magnetic particles.
“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.”