SCIENCE

Ebola Paper Test Developed by Harvard Scientists; Can Detect Virus in 30 Minutes

  • Doug Horn , Design & Trend Staff Writer
  • Oct, 27, 2014, 12:25 PM
Tags : ebola, Paper, test, Virus
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Scientists at Harvard's Wyss Institute may soon have a simple paper test that could test for the Ebola virus. They have successfully created a prototype paper test that can detect various Ebola strains.

The test is incredibly impressive in that it was made in just 12 hours for only about $20 and can offer results in 30 minutes. The team used synthetic versions of proteins, molecules, amino acids, ribosomes and enzymes and printed DNA sequences on paper. The ingredients then go through a variety of sequences to test for the Ebola virus.

According to Tech Times, "The paper's material is freeze-dried, making it easily storable at room temperature. The test is ready to use after adding water to it. In the case of the prototype, the paper changes color when detecting a strain of Ebola.

"Presently, the prototype test can distinguish between the Zaire strain of Ebola- the one responsible for the current epidemic in west Africa- and a synthetic strain. The test is also so simple that those without knowledge of synthetic biology can use it."

"We've harnessed the genetic machinery of cells and embedded them in the fiber matrix of paper, which can then be freeze-dried for storage and transport - we can now take synthetic biology out of the lab and use it anywhere to better understand our health and the environment," said Wyss Staff Scientist Keith Pardee.

Current Ebola blood tests need expensive equipment and results can take days to generate. The paper test could revolutionize how epidemics are dealt with. Due to the fact that it is inexpensive and does not require a PhD to understand or administer, it is good to use in the field or in countries with little access to electricity and expensive medical equipment, according to UPI.

At this point, the paper test for Ebola is just a prototype and not ready for an epidemic like the one in West Africa.

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