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: Proteins: New class of materials discovered

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Sea otters can get the flu, too

Apr 08, 2014

Northern sea otters living off the coast of Washington state were infected with the same H1N1 flu virus that caused the world-wide pandemic in 2009, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey and Centers for ...

Recommended for you

Proteins: New class of materials discovered

Aug 22, 2014

Scientists at the Helmholtz Center Berlin along with researchers at China's Fudan University have characterized a new class of materials called protein crystalline frameworks.

The fluorescent fingerprint of plastics

Aug 21, 2014

LMU researchers have developed a new process which will greatly simplify the process of sorting plastics in recycling plants. The method enables automated identification of polymers, facilitating rapid separation ...

User comments : 0