Tiny Sensor Offers Early Virus Detection

Tiny Sensor Offers Early Virus Detection
A tiny but extremely sensitive sensor able to detect minute quantities of antibodies could aid in early disease detection in impoverished areas.

The tiny sensor, no larger than a human hair, replaces the standard ELISA (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay) test, which has a relatively low sensitivity and can take up to ten days after infection for the test to register.

The sensor consists of a gold wire with the proteins related to the Zika and chikungunya viruses chemically attached to it. Sending an electrical current through the wire encouraged antibodies to bind to the viral proteins—increasing the mass of the wire as well as its ability to hold a charge. By measuring the change in mass of the wire, the team was able to detect the number of antibodies on the wire and confirm the presence of an infection, with no false results.

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