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: New technique reveals immune cell motion through variety of tissues

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

X-rays show how flu antibody binds to viruses

Dec 09, 2014

An important study conducted in part at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory may lead to new, more effective vaccines and medicines by revealing detailed information about how a ...

Recommended for you

'Global positioning' for molecules

Dec 19, 2014

In everyday life, the global positioning system (GPS) can be employed to reliably determine the momentary location of one en route to the desired destination. Scientists from the Institute of Physical and ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.