Nanotechnology test identifies Zika in minutes

Detecting Zika currently requires blood samples to be refrigerated and shipped to a laboratory for tests, delaying treatment and care to those in rural areas. Researchers from Washington University published a study in Advanced Biosystems that details a new technology capable of delivering Zika test results in minutes.

With current testing measures require shipping to medical facilities and refrigeration, which is not often available in most Zika-infected areas, detection of the virus comes too late to some patients. The new test uses gold nanorods on paper to detect the virus within minutes.

"If an assay requires electricity and refrigeration, it defeats the purpose of developing something to use in a resource-limited setting, especially in tropical areas of the world," said collaborator Srikanth Singamaneni, PhD, an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. "We wanted to make the test immune from variations in temperature and humidity."

The test uses proteins attached to nanorods that change color when coming into contact with Zika-infected blood. In tests conducted from blood samples of four infected people and five uninfected people, the nanorod test could differentiate between the sample and no false-positives.