Zika is a dangerous disease transmitted by mosquitoes that can cause microcephaly and other congenital disabilities. There is currently no vaccine known that can prevent the virus.
Diagnosing the disease has been difficult because most tests are based on a protein that can also be found in similar viruses. However, researchers part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a fast and easy paper-based test that can identify the Zika virus and differentiate it from other, similar viruses.
Paper-Based Test can Detect Zika in Minutes
Many tests have been used to identify the infection. Some use antibodies that interact with a viral protein found in the bodies of infected patients. Unfortunately, other viruses from the same family can carry a similar protein and cause a false positive. This means that it has been difficult to distinguish the virus from other diseases such as Dengue.
The new test uses a strip of paper that contains antibodies that react and detect Zika and the Dengue virus. In addition, gold nanoparticles respond to the reaction of the antibodies.
Medical professionals take a vial of either blood or blood serum and dip the strip into it. The test should return a result within 20 minutes, with positive results being signaled by a dot or line on the strip.
The test can be used to differentiate between the virus and four different strains of the Dengue virus. Instead of only being utilized in the laboratory, the test was validated using serum from infected patients. This helped prove it to be nearly 90 percent accurate in detecting the Zika virus.
The paper-based test will reportedly become available on the market in around a year. Also, the researchers are trying to keep the test as affordable as possible by working on keeping the material costs under $1.
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