Detecting flu viruses in remote areas of the world

Jul 14, 2008
Influenza
Scientists are reporting a new method that uses sugar molecules instead of antibodies to detect influenza. Credit: Courtesy of Cynthia Goldsmith, CDC

Researchers in Ohio and New Mexico are reporting an advance in the quest for a fast, sensitive test to detect flu viruses — one that requires no refrigeration and can be used in remote areas of the world where new flu viruses often emerge. Their new method, the first to use sugar molecules rather than antibodies, is in the July 2 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

In the new study, Jurgen Schmidt, Suri Iyer, and colleagues point out that conventional tests for flu viruses — including bird flu — rely on antibodies, proteins produced by the immune system, to recognize viruses. But antibody-based tests can be expensive and require refrigeration to remain stable.

Their solution involved development of artificial forms of sialic acid, a sugar molecule found on the surface of cells that flu viruses attach to when they attack humans. In laboratory tests, the researchers showed that their highly-selective artificial sugars could be used to quickly capture and recognize two common strains of influenza viruses, H1N1, which infects birds, and H3N2, which infects pigs and humans.

They used the molecules to differentiate between 2 strains (Sydney and Beijing) commonly found in human infections without isolating the viral RNA or surface glycoproteins. The sugars remain stable for several months, can be produced in large quantities, and exhibit extended shelf life.

Link: dx.doi.org/10.1021/ja800842v

Source: ACS

Explore further: Building the ideal rest stop for protons

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

End dawns for Europe's space cargo delivery role

5 hours ago

Europe will close an important chapter in its space flight history Tuesday, launching the fifth and final robot ship it had pledged for lifeline deliveries to the International Space Station.

Startup offers elderly an Internet key to family links

6 hours ago

Two grandmothers mystified by computer tablets have inspired a French-Romanian startup to develop an application and service to help the elderly stay in touch with their relatives through the Internet.

As numbers of gray seals rise, so do conflicts

Jul 20, 2014

(AP)—Decades after gray seals were all but wiped out in New England waters, the population has rebounded so much that some frustrated residents are calling for a controlled hunt.

Recommended for you

Nature inspires a greener way to make colorful plastics

22 minutes ago

Long before humans figured out how to create colors, nature had already perfected the process—think stunning, bright butterfly wings of many different hues, for example. Now scientists are tapping into ...

New catalyst converts carbon dioxide to fuel

2 hours ago

Scientists from the University of Illinois at Chicago have synthesized a catalyst that improves their system for converting waste carbon dioxide into syngas, a precursor of gasoline and other energy-rich products, bringing ...

Bullet 'fingerprints' to help solve crimes

2 hours ago

Criminals don't just have to worry about their own fingerprints these days: because of a young forensic scientist at The University of Western Australia, they should also be very concerned about their bullets' ...

User comments : 0