The toughest part of being sick lies in detecting the kind of illness that has affected us. Though, there are tests available to distinguish a viral and bacterial infection, finding the exact species of attack remains challenging in most cases.
Now, researchers from the University of Texas, Austin have developed a unique type of urine test that is capable of detecting any virus with much accuracy. The study was published in the Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
‘The digital electrochemical immunosensor technique is only sensitive to one type of virus, filtering out possible false negatives due to other viruses or contaminants.
The technique called as digital electrochemical immunosensor comprises of a tiny electrode in the size of human hair that is placed in the bowl containing mouse urine. Researchers for the first time the test on a virus called as human cytomegalovirus or HCMV, a virus that affects young children and requires early detection.
The test was able to identify the HCMV accurately. The mechanism is relatively simple. After placing the tiny electrode in the urine sample, they add specific antibodies and enzymes which are capable of sticking to the virus, if present.
They form large clumps by sticking, which comes in contact with the electrode too. Once the clumps bump with the electrode, a spark is created, i.e., a spike in electric current that can be easily detected.
Researchers said that this technique can also identify Zika and Ebola virus accurately. But still there are some limitations on this method. It needs a higher concentration of viruses to detect accurately as low levels may lead to false-positive results. The electrode can become less sensitive with time as many compounds can start sticking on its surface, leaving less surface area for viruses to interact with them.