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Work with nanoparticles may lead to 'on-the-spot' virus detector

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Chemical engineers from the University at Buffalo have collaborated with scientists from other institutions to solve a critical bottleneck in the transport and capture of virus nanoparticles, making possible a device that could rapidly sample and detect infectious biological agents, such as viruses.

"This advance may pave the way for an on-the-spot virus detector, which would be immensely helpful, especially in military and public-health applications," said Paschalis Alexandridis, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and co-author on the research.

A paper describing the results was published in the March issue of Langmuir (vol. 23, p. 3840).

The rapid detection of viruses in biological samples is of increasing interest, particularly with the recent emergence of new viruses, including SARS, West Nile virus and avian flu virus.

But because viral particles are present at such low concentrations in biological samples, such as blood, a device that can quickly and easily detect them has remained elusive.

Typical procedures involve using passive diffusion to get the viral particles to bind to an antibody, a slow process that is not feasible for many applications, such as on the battlefield, where quick results are critical.

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin at Madison led by Nicholas L. Abbott, Ph.D., a co-author on the paper and John T. and Magdalen L. Sobota Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, previously had demonstrated that liquid crystals can amplify signals from low concentrations of viral particles, quickly indicating whether or not a virus is present on a surface.

"The bottleneck was how to transport and capture enough suspected viral particles onto a surface in a timely fashion so that they could be detected," said Alexandridis. "During the acute phase of an infection, the virus is at a very low c
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Contact: Ellen Goldbaum
goldbaum@buffalo.edu
716-645-5000 x1415
University at Buffalo
2-May-2007


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