Ebola may have met its match: a couple of high-tech chips.
A new method developed by California researchers could transform how Ebola is identified, letting medics diagnose the disease in the field instead of sending samples to labs. That could speed containment of the virus in West Africa, which has seen one of the decade’s worst disease epidemics because of the difficulty in diagnosing Ebola.
The system relies on two chips: a “microfluidic” chip, used to deposit and prepare the sample, and an “optofluidic” chip, which can detect individual molecules containing the virus. Preliminary tests show the method to be as effective as a conventional lab test, according to a paper published Friday in Scientific Reports.
Since Ebola’s outbreak in Guinea in 2013, the disease has killed more than 11,000 people across West Africa, with new cases still occurring in Guinea and Sierra Leone. The disease is hard to stop; symptoms often don’t appear for many days, and it can take even longer for diagnostic tests to confirm the virus.