Scientists from the University of Colorado at Boulder and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed a microchip-based test that may allow more labs to diagnose influenza infections and learn more about the viruses causing illness. The FluChip successfully distinguished among 72 influenza strains--including the H5N1 avian influenza strain--in less than 12 hours. The research was led by University of Colorado scientist Kathy L. Rowlen, Ph.D., and was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It appears in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Microbiology.
Laboratories across the United States can do basic tests to determine the type and subtype of an influenza virus within several hours. However, only the CDC and a handful of other labs internationally have the high-level biosafety facilities needed to perform specialized tests that reveal critical details about the virus's geographic origin and other features. Because the FluChip technology could be used in lower level biosafety facilities, it could expand influenza diagnostic capacity by allowing more labs to determine the geographic origin of a newly emergent virus and whether its source is human or nonhuman; learn how closely related a new virus is to ones that circulated previously; and detect genetic changes that may signal the virus is becoming more virulent.
"The ability to quickly and accurately identify strains of influenza would be invaluable to international flu surveillance efforts," says NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D. "This is an encouraging advance."
"This state-of-the-art research is vital to our efforts to protect the nation's health, and it may provide a new tool in our toolbox in the fight against influenza," says CDC Director Julie Gerberding, M.D. "This is an excellent example of the advances we can achieve when governmental and academic rese
Contact: NIAID News Office
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases