Lab-on-chip detects bird flu

01 April 2008

Diagnostic test detects and analyses avian flu strains bringing effective vaccination sooner.

STMicroelectronics’ In-Check lab on chip is used in this VereFlu molecular diagnostic test, which can identify and differentiate human strains of influenza A and B viruses, including the avian flu strain H5N1, in a single test. The test can detect infection within two hours, providing genetic information that would traditionally take days, even weeks to learn, says STMicroelectronics who developed the test with Veredus Laboratories.

In-Check allows users to process and analyse minute patient samples, be it blood, serum or respiratory swabs on a disposable chip, the size of a fingernail. As well as reducing time and complexity, the test also reduces the risk of cross-contamination which can be a problem in conventional testing.

The portable diagnostic application can be used at the point of need for thorough coverage in the worst-affected areas of an outbreak. It underwent evaluation trials at the National University Hospital of Singapore. The test integrates two molecular biological applications in a lab on chip, which can monitor mutations of the virus and quickly identify the main strain of the season. Doing this can increase the effectiveness of a vaccination programme and reduce the risk of a new flu virus.

The two companies have established the Bio-Application Lab at the Science Park, Singapore, a joint laboratory to develop new biomedical applications based on In-Check, to cover infectious diseases, oncology and heart disease markers.

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