Diagnosing rapidly and accurately is vitally important during a flu outbreak, however, until now, there was no method of doing so; therefore, healthcare professionals had decide whether to use a time-consuming method that is very accurate or a quick method that is not so.
A new method of flu diagnosis is both rapid and accurate. Published in the Analyst journal in Aug., this method has been developed at the University of Georgia and involves coating nanoparticles of gold with antibodies capable of binding to specific flu virus strains, and then making measurements of the light scattered by the particles. With this method, one can detect the flu virus within minutes. It is also a very inexpensive test – an examination can be completed for just a fraction of a penny.
“We’ve known for a long time that you can use antibodies to capture viruses and that nanoparticles have different traits based on their size,” stated Ralph Tripp, co author of the study and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Vaccine Development in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. “What we’ve done is combine the two to create a diagnostic test that is rapid and highly sensitive.”
According to co author of the study Jeremy Driskell, the nanoparticles are great light scatters. Viruses are not good at scattering light. If we cluster the flu virus with the nanoparticles, we can cause fluctuation of the scattered light in a pattern that we can predict and measure.
“The test is something that can be done literally at the point-of-care,” stated Driskell. “You take your sample, put it in the instrument, hit a button and get your results.”