ME Postdoctoral Fellow Scott Ferguson's Research Highlighted by NIH
Disposable Chip Rapidly Detects Infectious Particles at the Point of Care: July 29, 2011
Is your coughing and sneezing caused by a common cold or potentially life-threatening swine flu?
Because different microbes (e.g., seasonal flu versus swine flu) cause many of the same symptoms, having the genetic information to identify a particular strain is critical in making an accurate diagnosis and eventually containing an outbreak. Current tests are not well suited for use at the point of care (the doctor’s office or local clinic) because they require skilled laboratory personnel to perform the tests and it can take up to several days to get results. “In this country, for example, the current rapid flu tests are notoriously unreliable at the point of care,” says postdoctoral fellow Scott Ferguson, University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Rapid flu tests fail to detect the infection in up to 50 percent of cases and occasionally may be positive in people who do not have the flu. “Having a more sensitive detection method in the clinic would be extremely valuable,” he adds.
To address these shortcomings, Ferguson is working with his research advisor, H. Tom Soh, Ruth Garland Professor at UCSB, and colleagues to design a system that integrates three laboratory processes on a single disposable chip. The system would accurately identify a microbe at the point of care, eliminating the time and expense of sending samples to a laboratory for identification by trained personnel.
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