One part of studying viruses is being on pace with them- being able to identify both new strains of known viruses and emerging viruses. So far, using PCR (polymerase chain reaction), virus isolation, and next-generation sequencing have been important tools. However, if only minute counts of a virus exists in a field sample, it could easily be overlooked.
A bioengineering group led by Si-yang Zheng and Mauricio Terrones has been working to increase our ability for virus surveillance and discovery. The nanotube array is a device that enriches the concentration of virus in field sample at least hundred-fold, by trapping virus particles and letting nontarget material to flow through. Viruses are trapped by an array of aligned, nitrogen-doped multiwalled carbon nanotubes, and the size of the array can be controlled-- meaning, scientists can control for the size of the virion they are looking for.
The device has already been put to the test, and has discovered a novel Turkey virus strain and an emerging avian influenza virus strain. The hope, then, is that this new device will help us discover and detect emerging viruses early enough so that viral outbreaks will be a thing of the past.
The Full Paper:
A Shortened Review of the Paper:
-- Sharon Kam