Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Scientific Community
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article

Sugar and Gold Forms Basis for Fast Specific Flu Test

Published: Monday, December 09, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, December 09, 2013
Bookmark and Share
A new approach to influenza testing, that utilises sugar labelled with gold to distinguish between human and avian strains, has been patented by researchers on Norwich Research Park.

If the flu virus is detected, the rich red of the gold solution will change colour, creating a quick and simple technique that has the potential for use worldwide with minimal training.

The team is a collaboration led by Professor Rob Field of the John Innes Centre and Professor David Russell of University of East Anglia. Prof Russell has already founded a spinout company – Intelligent Fingerprinting that detects drugs and drug metabolites in fingerprints – to exploit his previous work on optically based molecular recognition systems.

Professor Field explains that 90% of infections use carbohydrate recognition to bind with their targets in the human body and this process can be used as a basis for sensor development.  He says the same basic principles can be applied wherever rapid detection is required from detecting superbugs in hospitals to biohazards such as ricin.

“We have already developed a carbohydrate-based sensor to detect cholera in contaminated water supplies. The sensor is a suspension of sugars tagged with inexpensive gold nanoparticles.  If cholera is present it will attach to the sugar pulling the particles closer together.  This creates a change in the photophysics of the suspension, resulting in a colour change that is visible to the naked eye.

“We are now applying these principles to influenza.  We have found that different types of flu virus have different sugar binding capabilities, so it is therefore possible to use a colour change not only to identify the presence and absence of the virus but also to distinguish between them.”

On the surface of the human cell are sugar chains containing a molecule called sialic acid. Researchers have found that human flu and avian flu both have receptors for sialic acid but with a preference for different sugar chains. This can be used to differentiate between the flu virus strains.

Professor Russell explained that the new assay based on gold nanoparticles is much faster than current methods of detection.

“Preventing a new influenza pandemic requires both vaccination and antiviral drugs administered within 48 hours of the infection. Current methods of detection require isolation and culture of the virus and may take several hours or even days to get the results; which can be too long for the patient.  It is clear that a rapid, diagnostic test that is able to discriminate between the different strains of virus is essential.”

Results recently published in Organic & Biomolecular Chemistry* showed that functionalized gold nanoparticles were able to detect the human influenza virus X31 (H3N2) within 30 minutes and it was able to distinguish between human and avian influenza, which is exceptionally important.   This provides proof of concept for this innovative bioassay, which has potential for the specific recognition and detection of influenza virus strains in clinical samples.

Professor Field says the low-tech approach makes it a quick and easy dipstick test that can be used in the field with little training.

After successfully patenting the technique the researchers are now looking for a diagnostics company to partner with to bring it to market.

* Paper reference:  Org. Biomol. Chem., 2013,11, 7101-7107 DOI: 10.1039/C3OB41703D

Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,500+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 5,100+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters

Sign In

Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Scientific News
Point of Care Diagnostics - A Cautious Revolution
Advances in molecular biology, coupled with the miniaturization and improved sensitivity of assays and devices in general, have enabled a new wave of point-of-care (POC) or “bedside” diagnostics.
Overlooked Molecules Could Revolutionise our Understanding of the Immune System
Researchers have discovered that around one third of all the epitopes displayed for scanning by the immune system are a type known as ‘spliced’ epitopes.
NIH Study Determines Key Differences between Allergic and Non-Allergic Dust Mite Proteins
Researchers at NIH have uncovered factors that lead to the development of dust mite allergy and assist in the design of better allergy therapies.
New Antibody Therapy Permanently Blocks SIV Infection
An international research team has developed an effective treatment strategy against the HIV-like Simian Immunodeficiency Virus (SIV) in rhesus macaques.
Contribution Increases by Tenfold The Mouse Mutation Resources of One Type Available
The repository provides academic researchers with unique genetic models that are unavailable commercially.
3D-Printing in Science: Conference Co-Staged with LABVOLUTION
LABVOLUTION 2017 will have an added highlight of a simultaneous conference, "3D-Printing in Science".
DNA Vaccines Protect Monkeys Against Zika Virus
Two experimental Zika virus DNA vaccines developed by NIH scientists protected monkeys against Zika infection.
Rare Flu-Thwarting Mutation Discovered
Study finds protein mutation, that is encoded by influenza, causes the virus to lose any defence against the immune system.
Mapping the Human Immune System
Researchers try to harness supercomputers to create the first map of the human immune system.
Antibody Drug Conjugates May Help Personalize Radiotherapy
Biomarker-driven study shows promise in sensitizing HER2 positive tumors to radiation and chemotherapy.
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,500+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,100+ scientific videos