New pocket-sized blotter test can detect Ebola strains in just 30 minutes

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

Middle-of-semester busyness (catching up on grading and research, recovering from a two-week cold, and yardwork before the first big cold spell) has made it hard for me to stay on top of the blog, even though there has been a lot of big science news.  When I can, I’ll try to post something short and simple if I don’t have time to write long posts.  Here’s one on a new device that can detect Ebola in 30 minutes with no electricity, and even fit in your pocket.  It also only costs $20 in materials to produce!

The device uses a drop of saliva or blood placed on blotter paper that has cells embedded in its matrix.  RNA in the cells on the paper have been programmed to react with specific Ebola strains, and dots on the paper turn from yellow to purple when Ebola is present.

Unfortunately, the device is not quite ready to use in Africa, where the current Ebola epidemic is raging. Scientists need to make the device more sensitive so it can detect smaller quantities of Ebola before it can have widespread use.

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.