A new Ebola test that uses magnetic nanoparticles could help control the spread of the disease in Western Africa, reveals a new study.
The study shows that the new test is 100 times more sensitive than the current test and easier to use. Because of this, the new test makes it easier and cheaper to diagnose cases, enabling healthcare workers to isolate patients and prevent the spread of Ebola.
The authors of the study, from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, say their new technology could be applied to the detection of any biological molecules, making it useful to diagnose other infectious diseases, like flu, and potentially detect tumors and even contamination in wastewater.
The Ebola virus causes an acute illness that is deadly in half of all cases, on average. The current outbreak of Ebola, which started in March 2014, affects countries in West Africa.
In the most severely affected countries, like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, resources are limited, making control of the outbreak challenging.
There is no vaccine for Ebola, so detecting the virus is the key to control the outbreak: with an accurate diagnosis, patients can be isolated and treated properly, reducing the risk of spread.
Xiyun Yan, one of the authors of the study, said that their new strip test is a simple, one-step test that is cheap and easy to use, and provides a visible signal, which means people don't need training to use it, adding that it will be especially helpful in rural areas, where technical equipment and skills are not available.
The new test, called the nanozyme test, uses magnetic nanoparticles, which work like enzymes to make the signal stronger, giving a clearer result you can see with the naked eye. The test can detect much smaller amounts of the virus, and is 100 times more sensitive than the gold strip test.
The study is published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics.