Technical Report | Published:

Catching bird flu in a droplet

Nature Medicine volume 13, pages 12591263 (2007) | Download Citation

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Abstract

It is assumed that a timely mass administration of antiviral drugs, backed by quarantines and social distancing, could contain a nascent influenza epidemic at its source, provided that the first clusters of cases were localized within a short time. However, effective routine surveillance may be impossible in countries lacking basic public health resources. For a global containment strategy to be successful, low-cost, easy-to-use handheld units that permit decentralized testing would be vital. Here we present a microfluidic platform that can detect the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 in a throat swab sample by using magnetic forces to manipulate a free droplet containing superparamagnetic particles. In a sequential process, the viral RNA is isolated, purified, preconcentrated by 50,000% and subjected to ultrafast real-time RT-PCR. Compared to commercially available tests, the bioassay is equally sensitive and is 440% faster and 2,000–5,000% cheaper.

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Acknowledgements

We thank A. Goh for reading the manuscript, K.S. Chee for taking the photographs and T.-M. Hsieh for assisting in software programming. This work was funded by the Singapore Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), the Singapore Biomedical Research Council (BMRC), and the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

Author information

Author notes

    • Pavel Neuzil
    • , Yi Zhang
    •  & Lukas Novak

    Present addresses: Institute of Microelectronics, 11 Science Park Road, Science Park II, Singapore 117685 (P.N); Johns Hopkins University, 3400 North Charles Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21218, USA (Y.Z.); Czech Technical University, Technická 2, CZ-16627 Prague 6, Czech Republic (L.N.).

Affiliations

  1. Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, 31 Biopolis Way, The Nanos, #04-01, Singapore 138669.

    • Juergen Pipper
    • , Pavel Neuzil
    • , Yi Zhang
    •  & Lukas Novak
  2. Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, 61 Biopolis Drive, The Proteos, Singapore 138673.

    • Masafumi Inoue
  3. Genome Institute of Singapore, 60 Biopolis Street, The Genome, #02-01, Singapore 138672.

    • Lisa F-P Ng

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Contributions

J.P. supervised the project, conceived the experiments and wrote the manuscript. J.P. and Y.Z. performed the experiments and the data analyses. M.I. and L.F.-P.N. designed the PCR primers. P.N. fabricated the PCR chip. P.N. and L.N. designed the miniaturized detector. L.N. programmed the miniaturized thermocycler.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Juergen Pipper.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nm1634

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