The biosensor technology developed by researchers at the University of Leeds can not only detect the presence of the virus, it can also identify the individual strain and the number of virus particles present.
The study underpinning this research is published today (15 February) in the journal Biosensors & Bioelectronics.
Currently, testing for viruses is complicated, time consuming and requires specialist preparation of samples to identify virus DNA. Using this new technique, testing for viruses could be much quicker, simpler and ultimately less costly. For patients, this sort of diagnostic would mean faster treatment.
"This is a significant leap forward in testing for viruses," says Professor Paul Millner of the University's Faculty of Biological Sciences, who supervised the study. "For the first time we've been able to test for the presence of a whole virus, rather than having to seek out its genetic material, and the first time the number of virus particles has been counted using a lab-on-a-chip device. These are both exciting developments."
Adenovirus is a common virus found in vertebrates and causes many illnesses, from the common cold through to gastroenteritis. People with strong immune systems are not badly affected by the virus, but for those with a compromised or immature immune system - such as small children or HIV sufferers- it can have fatal consequences.
The new technique uses antibodies attached to an electrical sensor. By measuring the sensor's electrical changes, researchers were able to identify how many virus particles were present, and determine the type of virus dependent on its response.
"There's a long way to go before the technology might reach a doctor's surgery, but we've proven the concept," says Rebecca Caygill, the PhD student behind the study. "We now need to increase the sensitivity of the test and optimise the different stages of the process so that we can consider scaling it up for clinical trials."
The research was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and ELISHA Systems Ltd, the company commercialising this adenovirus biosensor and other biosensors for healthcare applications.
Banner photo © Rebecca Caygill.
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Sheena Radford, Mark Harris, Peter Stockley, Alan Berry, Alex O'Neill, Thomas Edwards, Adrian Goldman, Anastasia Zhuravleva, Wellcome Trust (Jan 2015), £443,015
Bill Kunin, EU (Jan 2015), £157,490
John Colyer, Leeds Teaching Hospitals Charitable Fund (Jan 2015), £40,000
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Ryan Seipke, Royal Society (Nov 2014), £13,700
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Alison Ashcroft, Peter Stckley, Sheena Radford, Nic Stonehouse, David Brockwell, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2014), £340,937
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Darren Tomlinson and colleagues in Chemistry and Pathology, anatomy and Tumour Biology, Dr Hadwen Trusy (Oct 2014), £194,475
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Martin Stacey and colleagues in Medicine & Health, Pfizer (Oct 2014), £90,453
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Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Aug 2014), £355,253
Stuart Egginton, BHF (Aug 2014), £271,094
Darren Tomlinson, Mike McPherson, Technology Strategy Board (Aug 2014), £98,665
Peter Henderson, Leverhulme Trust (Aug 2014), £15,222
Mike McPherson (and colleagues in the School of Chemistry), EPSRC (Jul 2014), £819,880
Peter Stockley, Neil Ranson, BBSRC (Jul 2014), £455,787
Sheena Radford, Univesity of Michigan (Jul 2014), £138,452
Ryan Seipke, British Society Antimicrobial Chemistry (Jun 2014), £11,960
John Trinick, BHF (Jun 2014), £222,614
Chris West, Leverhulme Trust (Jun 2014), £181,241
Jon Lippiat, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (May 2014), £125,174
Christine Foyer, Royal Society (May 2014), £24,000
David Brockwell, Sheena Radford, Medimmune Ltd (Apr 2014), £337,661
Peter Stockley, Wellcome Trust (Apr 2014), £251,019
Mike McPherson, Wellcome Trust (Apr 2014), £146,596
Andrew Macdonald, Kidney Research Fund UK (Apr 2014), £127,237
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Mike McPherson (and colleagues in School of Design), Technology Strategy Board (Apr 2014), £114,350
Paul Millner, Peter Stockley, Darren Tomlinson, YCR (Apr 2014), £95,874
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Bill Kunin, Technology Strategy Board (Apr 2014), £21,244
Dave Westhead, MRC (Apr 2014), £18,304