Rio Olympics is just around the corner and the worlds going berserk over the outbreak of Zika Virus in Brazil and other Latin American countries. The extent of paranoia around the world caused WHO (World Health Organization) to conduct a study of these affected area; thankfully they did announce that there was no need to postpone the Rio Olympics. Having said that, we would like to assure viewers that the threat is very real and needs to be dealt with immediately.
The obstacles in fighting against Zika Virus is that it’s mosquito-borne flavivirus disease that’s spread by a mosquito called Aedes mosquitoes. We all know that we have failed miserably in fighting other mosquito’s related diseases like malaria, Chikungunya and other. So all we are really left with is early detection and prevention of the disease, unfortunately that’s not easily available. A diagnosis of Zika virus infection can only be confirmed through laboratory tests on blood or other body fluids, such as urine, saliva or semen.
Our viewers might be thinking what these tests are not easy to find as it’s a very recent virus, unfortunately that’s not the case. The first confirmation of this was virus was in Uganda in 1947 when it was found in monkey through a network that monitored yellow fever, however no as it was limited to the animals and later in humans living in the African continent no one cared for finding a easier solution to cure this disease. But now that the world is worried about its outbreak in Brazil the worlds focus has suddenly sifted on this disease.
But alls not lost, there are many new researches happening to eradicate this disease. One of these was recently published in ACS’ journal Analytical Chemistry. It was presented by team of engineers from the University of Pennsylvania and it was Research Assistant Professor Changchun Liu and Professor Haim Bau of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics in Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.
The said diagnosis device is allegedly made using 3D Printed casing and can be made for as less as $2. This small device uses saliva samples of the patient and with the help of an inbuilt embedded genetic assay chip; it can show the test results almost instantaneously. The testing paper inside the device changes color and turns blue indicating the presence of the virus in the saliva sample. The developers of the device are very delighted with the results till now however they threw a wind of caution by saying that this device is still just a ‘Proof Of Concept’, and a lot more work is required to made this testing device available for general public.
Professor Haim Bau who headed the team of engineers said, “Although Zika primers for RT-PCR have been published in the literature, LAMP primers have not. So, using data mining, we identified highly conserved regions of the Zika virus genome that are divergent from other known pathogens. We then designed appropriate primers to recognize this sequence.”
Changchun Liu added, “In parallel, we engineered a low-cost, point-of-care system that consists of a diagnostic cassette and a processor. The cassette isolates concentrates and purifies nucleic acids and carries out enzymatic amplification. The test results are indicated by the change in the color of a dye, which can be inspected visually.”
This is a perfect example of a marriage between medicine and technology, it will bear amazing results. We are very pleased that 3D Printing is being used by a lot these innovative minds to make problem solving easier, and we are glad to have reported it to you.