Detecting Viral Disease In Less Than 60 Seconds

November 17, 2008

(ChattahBox) — Chemists and immunologists have devised a new rapid system for detecting and identifying viruses. Unlike bacteria, viruses are not cells; they consist of DNA or RNA molecules, containing the virus’s genes, surrounded by a protein coat. A virus can attach itself to cells and inject molecules into the cell, or the cell may absorb it. Once inside, the molecules cause the infected cell to make new viruses that can spread to other cells. The new rapid identifaction system uses surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy (study the make-up of an object based on the light it emits) to measure the frequency of near-infrared laser light as it scatters off viral DNA and RNA. After a swab of a person’s nasal passage, the technique can detect individual virus particles quickly and identify many types.

Every day, millions of people travel in and out of U.S. airports from cities all over the world; and they’re bringing more with them than just their baggage — they’re bringing germs. We’ve all heard about the threat of a pandemic. Scientists say during a major disease outbreak, or even a bioterrorism attack, one of the biggest enemies could be time. Using traditional testing, it can take days — even weeks — to confirm a diagnosis and isolate those infected. Now, science may have found a way to speed up the clock.

Researchers say the rapid response system can detect viruses from a nasal swab in one minute or less.
Chemists say the technique is so powerful, it can detect even a single virus particle in seconds and identify countless mutations — whether it’s flu, rotavirus or something else. They’re already developing a laptop-sized testing station for airport screening. For disease outbreaks and bioterrorism, or simply speeding up a doctor’s diagnosis, researchers say this new technique could one day be an important weapon in the fight against disease.


One Response to “Detecting Viral Disease In Less Than 60 Seconds”

  1. kobie on November 17th, 2008 9:42 pm

    This is great. 17 people where just put in islation in Indonesia waiting for test results after another H5N1 suspected outbreak. Sadly H5N1 or bird flu continues to spread like across the world like a bad weed no one can stop.

    Quick detection of virus is good.

    How accurate is the test?

    How infected, i.e. how much of the virus, must the person have? Recently infected or after 24 hours when the virus takes hold or 36 hours when they start shedding the virus to others?

    Because it works on reflected light can surfaces be swabbed and tested?


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