Scientists have made a portable test that can demonstrate whether somebody has been infected with the Zika virus, even in remote areas,a long way from a hospital or lab.
Previously available tests either take a lot of time, produce too many false negatives, or require expensive equipment that limit their usability. RT-PCR, particularly, works well but requires precise sample management to amplify the DNA.
The new test uses a technique called loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) to grow the viral DNA. One problem of applying LAMP in the past has been developing so-called “primers,” short DNA strings that complement the DNA of the viral target. The researchers used computational techniques to identify spots on the Zika DNA that are unique to that virus, which were integrated into the detector. The other issue has been maintaining the proper temperature of the sample during the isolation and amplification of the DNA. To make that happen without electricity, the detector is situation within what is essentially an Thermos bottle.
In a study published Friday in the journal Cell.