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Rapid, simple Zika test developed

Cambridge, MA — According to a new study, a fast-acting, simple and low-cost “dipstick” test for the Zika and dengue viruses could revolutionize public health response to the dangerous tropical germ.


The test accurately diagnoses Zika and dengue and can tell the two mosquito-borne viruses apart, according to researchers at the MIT Institute for Medical Engineering and Science.


The test consists of a testing strip contains antibodies that react to the presence of Zika or dengue virus.  It also contains gold nanoparticles that respond to the antibody reaction.


To use the test, a medical professional would dip the strip into a tube of either blood serum or whole blood.  If the strip tests positive, a dot or line appears on it.


The test can tell Zika from dengue, and also can distinguish among four different strains of dengue—all of which viruses belonging to the flavivirus family.


The test strip currently costs $5 per strip; researchers’ goal is to reduce that to under $1 each.


The new report was published recently in Science Translational Medicine.