A device was recently created by researchers from the University of São Paulo in Brazil that can analyze clinical samples to diagnose the infection of 416 viruses. This tool is composed of a DNA microarray slide that has 8 sub-arrays with viral probes that will each replicate to make an array with 15,000 probes. So this way if there is a patient who has their blood sample taken for the test, their viral pathogen’s genome will bind to one of the probes and then produce a marker that will be picked up by the scanner and detected.
This tool will be able to greatly assist with epidemiological surveillance and fill in the gap where a lot of conventional methods fail to appropriately diagnose the disease. Since there are a number of viruses that can be harmful to humans and just haven’t done so yet, this tool will detect those viruses and help prevent an outbreak like Zika did. One of the creators believes that if this tool had been around when Zika broke out, it could have possibly halted the outbreak to a confined area because the Zika virus was not in people’s mind as being the pathogen. Therefore, this tool will be able to detect viruses found in tropical world regions, and also detect co-infection.
This device, due to the high cost associated with its production, will only initially be used on patients that are suspected to have a febrile disease whose diagnosis cannot be confirmed by conventional methods. With summer approaching in the next few months, we’ll have to wait and see if this device is as usual and can contain further Zika or similar viral outbreaks.