A New Device Can Detect Zika Virus Through Smartphone

Scientists have developed a device that can be attached to your phone to detect zika virus. 

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: Aug 03, 2022Updated at: Aug 03, 2022
A New Device Can Detect Zika Virus Through Smartphone

Unlike COVID-19 whose testing is fairly easier due to simple, rapid and accurate results, zika virus detection is a little difficult. Zika virus is one of the mosquito-borne illnesses that spreads when an infected Aedes aegypti mosquito bites a healthy person. Zika virus has similar symptoms as yellow fever and dengue but it is comparatively milder. However, timely detection and medical aid can prevent hospitalisation. In a new development, researchers from the University of Illinois have made a device that can be attached to a smartphone to test zika virus. 

How Zika Virus Can Be Detected With A Smartphone? 

As per a study published in the journal Analyst titled"Smartphone clip-on instrument and microfluidic processor for rapid sample-to-answer detection of Zika virus in whole blood using spatial RT-LAMP", scientists have developed a clip-on device that you can attach to your smartphone to test for zika virus. You have to put a single droplet of blood on the device to test for zika. This is a breakthrough because lab tests are complex and time-taking. If you get to know about the disease timely, you can take immediate steps for its treatment. 

This is particularly beneficial for pregnant women as getting infected with zika virus can put their babies at risk. Several studies have found that zika virus during pregnancy can cause foetal complications and developmental disorders in babies. 

Also Read: Can Zika Virus Transmit From Mother To Baby In The Womb?

Device Can Detect Zika Virus Through Smartphone

Currently, zika virus is tested through lab PCR tests only to detect the genetic material of the virus. This procedure is very long as first, the blood is purified to eliminate contaminants for further use. Then, it goes under 20-40 repeated temperature shifts for testing. Thus, scientists found a new process named Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification(LAMP) which is simpler and provides accurate results. There is no need to purify blood or take it through temperature shifts. Using this technique, scientists developed this device.

There is a cartridge that has reagants to detect zika virus. This cartridge is there in the clip-on instrument that is to be clipped onto a smartphone. As soon as you add a drop of blood to it, the reagants would examine the blood for the presence of virus. If you have zika virus, the chemical in the cartridge would become bright green in colour. The entire process takes about 25-30 minutes. All this while, the device should remain clipped to the phone.

Also Read: What Is Zika Virus? Know The Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, And Prevention

A researcher explains, “We've designed a clip-on device so that the smartphone's rear camera is looking at the cartridge while the amplification occurs. When there's a positive reaction, you see little green blooms of fluorescence that eventually fill up the entire cartridge with green light."

After getting a positive response on this, scientists are planning to develop such devices for other mosquito-borne illnesses as well. This compact device efficiently detects zika virus at home.

Image credits- freepik

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