MIT Scientists Develop Field-Usable Device Enabling 10-Minute Test to Detect & Differentiate Ebola, Yellow Fever, and Dengue Fever Viruses

In a February 24, 2015 release from the MIT News Office, it was announced that MIT scientists have developed a simple test that can detect and differentiate Ebola, yellow fever, and Dengue fever viruses. This is a major development with much practical promise. When diagnosing a case of Ebola, time is of the essence. However, existing diagnostic tests take at least a day or two to yield results, preventing health care workers from quickly determining whether a patient needs immediate treatment and isolation. The new test from MIT researchers could change that: the device, a simple paper strip similar to what is used for a pregnancy test, can rapidly diagnose Ebola, as well as other viral hemorrhagic fevers such as yellow fever and dengue fever. “As we saw with the recent Ebola outbreak, sometimes people present with symptoms and it’s not clear what they have,” says Dr. Kimberly Hamad-Schifferli, a visiting scientist in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the technical staff at MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory. “We wanted to come up with a rapid diagnostic that could differentiate between different diseases.” Dr. Hamad-Schifferli and Dr. Lee Gehrke, the Hermann L.F. von Helmholtz Professor in MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES), are the senior authors of a paper describing the new device in the journal Lab on a Chip. This article was published online on February 12, 2015 and is titles “Multicolored Silver Nanoparticles for Multiplexed Disease Diagnostics: Distinguishing Dengue, Yellow Fever, and Ebola Viruses.”
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