Rapid Zika Detection Test Uses Smartphone Technology

The Zika virus, which continues to cause microcephaly and other neurological complications in infants whose mothers were infected during pregnancy, remains a public health concern. Investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital are working to develop a new way to rapidly and accurately diagnose Zika using mobile health technologies that could potentially be deployed in resource-limited settings. The researchers also envision that the tool could provide home testing for couples who are trying to conceive, particularly in locations with high risk of infection. In the June issue of ACS Nano, researchers describe a new technology that leverages advances in digital health systems and nanotechnology to transform a smartphone into a device capable of detecting Zika.

"Zika diagnostics represent an urgent need in many parts of the world. Our goal is to address this unmet clinical need using cell-phone-based technology," said corresponding author Hadi Shafiee, PhD, principal investigator at the BWH Division of Engineering in Medicine and Renal Division of Medicine. "Cell phones have the power to perform complicated analyses, handle image processing, take high quality images, and are ubiquitous in Zika-afflicted countries. We can leverage this to address outbreaks of infectious disease."

Traditional virus diagnostics rely on detecting antibodies in a person's bloodstream that target Zika. However, many closely related viruses, including dengue, can elicit similar antibodies, leading to a high false positive rate for such tests. Other research groups are currently developing methods to go after the nucleic acid building blocks of the Zika virus, but Shafiee and colleagues have taken an entirely new approach: They are developing a way to detect intact copies of the Zika virus.

To do so, the team is using nanotechnology. Researchers developed tiny platinum nanomotors that target Zika as well as microbeads that bind the virus. When both components are added to a sample containing Zika, they form a three-dimensional complex that moves in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. This movement can be detected using a smartphone hooked up to a $5 optical device.

The technology can differentiate between the Zika virus and other closely related viruses through the uniqueness of motion signal. . The three-dimensional Zika complex moves rapidly while other non-target viruses will cause slower motion that can be easily excluded by the cellphone system for very specific detection.. This motion mechanism overcomes the cross reactivity in antibody-based detection and the complexity of nucleic acid-based detections.

This approach - known as the nanomotor-based bead-motion cellphone (NBC) system - detected Zika in samples with viral concentrations as low as 1 particle per microliter. The team also reports that the NBC system was highly specific - in the presence of other viruses, it accurately detected Zika.

"The NBC system has the potential to be used at the point of care for disease detection in both developed and developing countries," said lead author Mohamed Shehata Draz, PhD, an instructor in the BWH Division of Engineering in Medicine. "This is an important way to eliminate the social stress related to Zika virus infection and health problems specifically related to newborns."

The current study uses an optical device similar to what Shafiee and colleagues used previously to detect male infertility in semen samples. Unlike viruses, semen can be detected without nanoparticles and complexes. The new work highlights the potential of using cell phone technology for viral diagnostics, and Shafiee and colleagues plan to further explore and apply the approach to other viruses.

Mohamed Shehata Draz, Nivethitha Kota Lakshminaraasimulu, Sanchana Krishnakumar, Dheerendranath Battalapalli, Anish Vasan, Manoj Kumar Kanakasabapathy, Aparna Sreeram, Shantanu Kallakuri, Prudhvi Thirumalaraju, Yudong Li, Stephane Hua, Xu G. Yu, Daniel R. Kuritzkes, Hadi Shafiee.
Motion-Based Immunological Detection of Zika Virus Using Pt-Nanomotors and a Cellphone.
ACS Nano 2018 12 (6), 5709-5718. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.8b01515.

Most Popular Now

Researchers Apply Computing Power to Tra…

Princeton researchers have developed a new computational method that increases the ability to track the spread of cancer cells from one part of the body to another. This migration of...

Philips Powers First Tele-Intensive Care…

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, and Japan-based Showa University announced the launch of Japan's first telemedicine intensive care (eICU) program at Showa University...

Open Call SC1-DTH-10-2019-2020: Digital …

Digital solutions supporting a continuum of care across a range of health and care services can relieve the pressure on governments to provide more cost-effective health and care systems by...

AI and Radar Technologies could Help Dia…

People with diabetes could be able to monitor their blood sugar without drawing blood using a system now being developed at the University of Waterloo. In a recent study, researchers...

Bad Habits that Lead to Cancer, Chronic …

Does this sound like someone you know? He or she spends too much time in front of screens, gets little exercise and eats a diet high in fat and low...

Private Healthcare Data to be Captured b…

An initiative has been launched to ensure private healthcare data is recorded in the same way as NHS data in England, with the aim of improving consistency across the system...

Research Finds Three Major Failings in s…

In the scramble to bring successful apps for the diagnosis of skin cancer to market there is a concern that a lack of testing is risking public safety, according to...

New Tissue-Imaging Technology could Enab…

A new microscope system can image living tissue in real time and in molecular detail, without any chemicals or dyes, report researchers at the University of Illinois. The system uses...

New Technology Helps to Improve Treatmen…

A new web-based "feedback" technology which allows therapists to accurately monitor how patients with depression are coping has been found to reduce the probability of deterioration during psychological treatment by...

Rapid Zika Detection Test Uses Smartphon…

The Zika virus, which continues to cause microcephaly and other neurological complications in infants whose mothers were infected during pregnancy, remains a public health concern. Investigators from Brigham and Women's...

AAL Market and Investment Report

The AAL Market and Investment Report was commissioned by the Ambient Assisted Living Association and aims to provide a consolidated view of the existing market and investment information in Europe...