An Iowa State University research team is developing a new sensor capable of detecting Ebola in a single drop of blood while providing results in an hour.
Researchers indicated the sensor is based on DNA aptamers, described as short, single-stranded DNA molecules selectively bound to a specific target. As a means of detecting Ebola, researchers identified aptamers binding to Ebola virus soluble glycoprotein, a protein appearing in the blood of someone with Ebola before symptoms appear.
“Our new sensor doesn’t require any special storage conditions,” said Soma Banerjee, a visiting scientist in Marit Nilsen-Hamilton’s laboratory at Iowa State University, research associate in Ames National Laboratory, and research scientist at Aptalogic Inc. “This is an immense advantage because Ebola outbreaks occur frequently in remote areas where even electricity can be a luxury.”
Ebola is one of the deadliest of all known viruses, killing up to 90 percent of infected individuals. Halting the spread requires the ability to detect and isolate infected people. Researchers acknowledged outbreaks often occur in remote areas of Africa and require blood tests to be transported to distant laboratories for analysis.
“Once our device is fully optimized for detecting Ebola, we plan to develop a multiplexed version that can perform multiple tests and detect other viruses and microbes, all from one drop of blood,” Banerjee said. “We’re also using what we’ve learned so far to identify aptamers that could be used to detect COVID-19 and other similar viruses.”