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New Biosensor Integrated Device Detects Mosquito-Borne Viruses In Real-Time

The biosensor works by analyzing the degree of the change in surface resistance, which differentiates between different types of viruses

Increasing prevalence of mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika or Dengue are propelling demand for development of efficient diagnosis methods in order to avoid such diseases by taking necessary precautions. A Startup owned by Purdue University professors is engaged in developing a sensor to detect harmful mosquito-borne tropical diseases in less time at cost effective rate, which can help health officials to take preventive measures before viruses are transmitted to humans. Conventional mosquito-testing procedures requires at least week to deliver results, which can be done in less than an hour using new biosensor.

The team developed a device which integrates an electrode coated with a material having high surface area. When a biological sample from a virus-infected mosquito is placed on the material, the DNA or RNA of the virus binds to it, which changes the surface resistance of the electrode. The change is detected by the sensor, which in turn alerts the user regarding presence of the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Zika can cause severe birth defects in infants whose mothers were infected during pregnancy and warns pregnant women from traveling to areas at risk for Zika. Also, more than one-third of the world’s population live in areas at risk for dengue, with up to 400 million people a year infected.

Furthermore, inexpensive methods of detecting Zika and other mosquito-borne viruses are also being developed by scientists at the University of Queensland, Sandia National Laboratories and Harvard University. “The sensor provides early detection so you can intervene earlier,” said Prof. Lia Stanciu, co-founder of Purdue spin-off company SMK Diagnostics, which is commercializing the device. “If local agencies know there’s a danger, they can intervene early to try to make sure it doesn’t get transmitted to people.”