Scientists from Singapore’s A*STAR Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology(IBN) have developed a rapid dengue diagnostic kit which can detect dengue-specific antibodies from saliva within 20mins. Dengue is the leading cause of illness and death in regions with a tropical and subtropical climate, but still there is no effective vaccine or medicine to treat this illness. It takes 4-10 days after the infection for symptoms to develop, and hence early detection could help in timely treatment before complications set in.
IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Y. Ying shared, “Our rapid diagnostic kit can detect a key dengue antibody from saliva that is present in early-stage secondary infection.” Patients with secondary infection, who have previously been infected with other serotypes of dengue virus, stand a higher risk of developing dengue hemorrhagic fever or dengue shock syndrome. “Hence, the ability to differentiate between primary and secondary dengue infections makes it a valuable early diagnosis tool that would help to ensure timely treatment and proper care of patients.” he adds.
The kit consists of a paper-based disposable device which can detect IgG, a dengue specific antibody which is found at the onset of secondary infections, directly from saliva in one step. Unlike blood samples, saliva can be collected easily and painlessly for rapid point-of-care diagnostics. However, the saliva sample cannot be directly used as it would cause the sensor nanoparticles to stick to the test strip and also because it cannot handle such a large volume of saliva. Hence, they envisaged an innovative stacking flow design wherein the saliva sample flows separately through a fiber glass matrix, which removes the substances that would interfere with nanoparticle-based sensing system before it mixes with the sensor nanoparticles. The device also regulates the flow in the test strip, generating uniform test lines for more accurate results.
The device is undergoing further development for commercialization and the researchers hope the ease of use of this device, makes it as useful as over-the-counter pregnancy kits. The institute is collaborating with ARKRAY Inc, a pioneer in the field of automated analysis systems, to commercialize this paper-based diagnostic technology.
The original paper can be accessed here.