Rapid and easy Zika test developed
The test accurately diagnoses Zika and dengue and can tell the two mosquito-borne viruses apart, an area in which commercially available tests now stumble, said senior researcher Lee Gehrke, a professor with the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.
"In light of the problems with Zika virus causing microcephaly [a genetic abnormality resulting in a smaller-than-normal head] and other defects in babies born to infected mothers, it's very important a pregnant woman would know if her fever is caused by Zika virus or dengue virus," said Gehrke, who's also a professor at Harvard Medical School.
The new test resembles a pregnancy test strip, Gehrke noted. The strip contains antibodies that react to the presence of Zika or dengue virus, and gold nanoparticles that respond to the antibody reaction.
To use the test, a medical professional would dip the strip into a tube of either blood serum or whole blood.
"If it is a positive test, then we see a dot or a line on the test that results from seeing the gold nanoparticles that signal the antibodies recognizing the viral protein," Gehrke said.
The test can tell Zika from dengue, and also can distinguish among four different strains of dengue, Gehrke added. ■