China / Innovation

Chinese scientists develop portable device to detect Ebola quickly

( Updated: 2016-06-01 16:48

Chinese scientists develop portable device to detect Ebola quickly

The Ebola-testing devices developed by scientists from a Chinese university. [Photo/]

A team of scientists from a Chinese university have developed a palm-sized instrument that can detect the Ebola virus more quickly than traditional way and track down the virus load in body fluid.

In the traditional method, doctors or scientists have to use a method called reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in specialized laboratories to detect the virus. The process could take as long as a whole day to find the result.

Detection and treatment are delayed due to the time-consuming testing process, as is the real-time monitoring of viral loads in body fluid, which can harbor the virus even though it is no longer detectable in blood.

Pavel Neuzil, a professor from the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, Shaaxi province, and his colleagues have developed and tested a cell phone-sized device that can simultaneously perform four RT-PCRs.

The new process takes less than 37 minutes, and the amount of blood required is minute and just a finger prick is enough.

The device can detect the Ebola RNA and provide information about how many RNA copies each sample has. It can also help healthcare workers track patients' viral loads in semen, breast milk and eye fluids.

It measures 100 mm by 60 mm by 33 mm, and weighs 80 grams. Such a small and efficient device is especially helpful in remote locations.

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