Unfortunately, testing for Zika remains a somewhat lengthy process. Although very reliable, the commonly used urine test can detect the virus only two weeks after the onset of symptoms, and
That could soon change. Earlier this month, researchers at Florida International University were granted a patent for a device that can deliver results faster than any other test on the market.
"The platform has a lot of
Here's how it works: Instead of sending a sample to the lab, health workers insert a sensing chip into the sample and plug the chip into a compatible medical device. A digital reading showing whether the person is positive for Zika is available in less than 40 minutes.
Because the method doesn't require laboratory testing, the researchers say their device could easily be used in remote places without medical centers.
"This is a device that can be taken by health workers to the site of [Zika-prone] locations," Nair says. "That data can be shared remotely with the clinics."
With a different chip, the patented method could also be used to detect other viruses, such as dengue or West Nile.
"The same technology can be used for any type of infection," Kaushik says. "This is a platform technology."
As of now, the researchers are seeking a manufacturer that can develop the device for mass consumption. Eventually, the goal is to have an app that could quickly spit out test results.
"The ultimate aim is personalized health care," Kaushik says. "Anyone can use this."