Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New field-deployable biosensor detects avian influenza virus in minutes instead of days

Quick identification of avian influenza infection in poultry is critical to controlling outbreaks, but current detection methods can require several days to produce results.

A new biosensor developed at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) can detect avian influenza in just minutes. In addition to being a rapid test, the biosensor is economical, field-deployable, sensitive to different viral strains and requires no labels or reagents.

“We can do real-time monitoring of avian influenza infections on the farm, in live-bird markets or in poultry processing facilities,” said Jie Xu, a research scientist in GTRI’s Electro-Optical Systems Laboratory (EOSL).

Worldwide, there are many strains of avian influenza virus that cause varying degrees of clinical symptoms and illness. In the United States, outbreaks of the disease – primarily spread by migratory aquatic birds – have plagued the poultry industry for decades with millions of dollars in losses. The only way to stop the spread of the disease is to destroy all poultry that may have been exposed to the virus.

A virulent strain of avian influenza (H5N1) has begun to threaten not only birds but humans, with more than 300 infections and 200 deaths reported to the World Health Organization since 2003. Looming is the threat of a pandemic, such as the 1918 Spanish flu that killed about 40 million people, health officials say.

“With so many different virus subtypes, our biosensor’s ability to detect multiple strains of avian influenza at the same time is critical,” noted Xu.

To test the biosensor, the researchers assessed its ability to detect two avian influenza strains that previously infected poultry. The results showed that a solution containing very few virus particles could be detected by the sensor.

Xu tested a third strain of the virus as a control. When the sensor coating was modified to collect only the other two strains, the control strain was not detected even at high concentrations. Results of this study were published online in August in the journal Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry and will be included in journal’s print edition on October 16. The work was funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Georgia Research Alliance.

“The technology that Georgia Tech developed with our help has many advantages over commercially available tests -- improved sensitivity, rapid testing and the ability to identify different strains of the influenza virus simultaneously,” said David Suarez, a collaborator on the project and research leader of exotic and emerging avian viral diseases in ARS’ Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga. Suarez is providing antibodies and test samples for GTRI’s research.

The biosensor is coated with antibodies specifically designed to capture a protein located on the surface of the viral particle. For this study, the researchers evaluated the sensitivity of three unique antibodies to detect avian influenza virus.

The sensor utilizes the interference of light waves, a concept called interferometry, to precisely determine how many virus particles attach to the sensor’s surface. More specifically, light from a laser diode is coupled into an optical waveguide through a grating and travels under one sensing channel and one reference channel.

Researchers coat the sensing channel with the specific antibodies and coat the reference channel with non-specific antibodies. Having the reference channel minimizes the impact of non-specific interactions, as well as changes in temperature, pH and mechanical motion. Non-specific binding should occur equally to both the test and reference channels and thus not affect the test results.

An electromagnetic field associated with the light beams extends above the waveguides and is very sensitive to the changes caused by antibody-antigen interactions on the waveguide surface. When a liquid sample passes over the waveguides, any binding that occurs on the top of a waveguide because of viral particle attachment causes water molecules to be displaced. This causes a change in the velocity of the light traveling through the waveguide.

At the end of the waveguide, the light beams from the sensing and reference channels are combined to create an interference pattern. The pattern of alternating dark and light vertical stripes, or fringes, is imaged on a simple detector. By doing a mathematical Fourier transform, the researchers determine the degree to which the fringe patterns are in or out of step with each other, known as phase shift. This phase shift tells the amount of virus bound to the surface.

“The fringe pattern doesn’t look like it changes in the image, but with math we find out the speed of the light in the test channel changed creating this phase change,” explained Xu.

Current methods of identifying infected birds include virus isolation, real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RRT-PCR) and antigen capture immunoassays. Virus isolation is a sensitive technique, but typically requires five to seven days for testing. RRT-PCR is commonly available in veterinary diagnostic laboratories, but requires expensive equipment and appropriate laboratory facilities. RT-PCR can take as little as three hours to get test results, but routine surveillance samples are more often processed in 24 hours. The antigen capture immunoassays can provide rapid test results, but suffer from low sensitivity and high cost.

Beyond the waveguide sensor, the only additional external components required for field-testing with GTRI’s biosensor include a sample-delivery device (peristaltic pump), a data collection laptop computer and a swab taken from a potentially infected bird. Power is supplied by a nine volt battery and USB connection. The waveguides can be cleaned and reused dozens of times, decreasing the per-test cost of the chip fabrication.

Xu and Suarez are currently working together to test new unique antibodies with the biosensor and to test different strains. In addition, Xu is reducing the size of the prototype device to be about the size of a lunchbox and making the computer analysis software more user-friendly so that it can be field-tested in two years.

“We are continuing our collaboration and have provided additional money to Georgia Tech to move the project along faster,” added Suarez. “Since this technology is already set up so that you can use multiple antibodies to detect different influenza subtypes, we are going to extend the work to include the H5 subtype.”

Abby Vogel | EurekAlert!
Further information:

Further reports about: Antibodies Biosensor Infection Particle Suarez Viral avian subtype waveguide

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Novel mechanisms of action discovered for the skin cancer medication Imiquimod
21.10.2016 | Technische Universität München

nachricht Second research flight into zero gravity
21.10.2016 | Universität Zürich

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>