Chemoluminescent nanoparticles detect multiple deadly viruses in one go

A blood transfusion can be a life-saving gift – but if that blood unwittingly contains a deadly virus, it can kill instead of cure. Medical staff therefore needs to be able to quickly and easily screen blood for viruses and a new system developed by researchers in China can do just that: it checks for three viruses – HIV, hepatitis C and hepatitis B – all at once and could even be adapted for more.

Chemoluminescent nanoparticles

Source: © Royal Society of Chemistry
First, all viruses’ DNA is amplified at the same time (top left). Then, the researchers add a virus-specific nucleic acids sitting on the surface of magnetic nanoparticles – when it detects a virus it can match up with, the nanoparticle emits light once certain chemicals have been added

The quickest way to test a sample for viruses is by looking for their DNA or RNA –unlike antibody based tests this doesn’t need to wait for the body’s immune response to kick in before showing a result. Nongyue He’s team at Southwest University uses a process called amplification to multiply several viruses’ DNA or RNA at the same time, making enough to generate a strong signal when tested.

Read the full story by Susannah May in Chemistry World.

This article is free to access until 16 January 2016.

Z Ali et al, Biomater. Sci., 2017. DOI: 10.1039/C6BM00527F

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