Nav: Home

Noviplex device will diagnose and track Zika in the Amazon

April 08, 2016

Lincoln, Neb., April 8, 2016 -- A University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher is partnering with Brazilian officials to distribute a device that could accelerate testing for the Zika virus and monitor contamination of the country's freshwater food sources.

In 2014, biochemist Jiri Adamec and colleagues introduced the Noviplex card, which separates plasma from a blood sample taken by the simple prick of a finger. After the sample is blotted on a small card, the technology can upload a digital image of the separated plasma to a clinic or laboratory that can analyze it for signs of disease.

If those signs are detected, the sample -- which retains its integrity for weeks even in the humidity of a tropical rainforest -- can be sent to a medical facility and further tested for a diagnosis.

This unprecedented capability makes the technology especially suited to prescreening for the Zika virus, Adamec said. The virus has been strongly linked with microcephaly: abnormally small heads, and often underdeveloped brains, among the babies of women who have contracted the virus.

"The current Zika virus outbreak is affecting remote areas such as the Amazonian region of Brazil, and it's extremely difficult to get to those areas to screen residents for the virus," said Adamec, associate professor of biochemistry. "Medical professionals (currently) have to fly in and out by helicopter very quickly to ensure the blood samples remain stable at a low temperature."

This reality has made mapping the prevalence of Zika more difficult, Adamec said. Moreover, he said, an existing test used to screen for Zika has exhibited unacceptably high rates of false positives and false negatives. This means that some uninfected individuals are identified as carrying Zika, even as some who actually have the virus are mistakenly told they do not.

In an effort to overcome these challenges, Adamec said Noviplex cards will soon be distributed to eight South American states throughout the Amazon. The World Health Organization, which has classified Zika as an international public health emergency, is monitoring the project.

The technology is already addressing another health issue within South America's largest country. Because some Brazilian mining operations illegally use mercury to extract gold -- afterward dumping the toxic element in local rivers -- officials are also using Noviplex cards to prescreen for elevated levels of mercury in marine life and citizens who consume seafood.

And with the Olympic Games set to descend on Rio de Janeiro in August, the Brazilian Olympic Team has adopted the technology to monitor biomarkers that can indicate the onset of fatigue and other physiological stressors.

Modifying the technology, which R&D Magazine named a top-100 invention of 2014, might even allow physicians to eventually detect biomarkers of brain injury in athletes, Adamec said.

"It's difficult to say what impact Noviplex will have in the next five years," he said, "because the possibilities are really endless."

Adamec and his colleagues, who developed their technology through a co-founded company named Novilytic LLC, received research support from the National Institutes of Health.
-end-


University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Related Mercury Articles:

Mercury's 400 C heat may help it make its own ice
Despite Mercury's 400 C daytime heat, there is ice at its caps, and now a study shows how that Vulcan scorch probably helps the planet closest to the sun make some of that ice.
New potential cause of Minamata mercury poisoning identified
One of the world's most horrific environmental disasters--the 1950 and 60s mercury poisoning in Minamata, Japan--may have been caused by a previously unstudied form of mercury discharged directly from a chemical factory, research by the University of Saskatchewan (USask) has found.
New nanomaterial to replace mercury
Ultraviolet light is used to kill bacteria and viruses, but UV lamps contain toxic mercury.
Wildfire ash could trap mercury
In the summers of 2017 and 2018, heat waves and drought conditions spawned hundreds of wildfires in the western US and in November, two more devastating wildfires broke out in California, scorching thousands of acres of forest, destroying homes and even claiming lives.
Removing toxic mercury from contaminated water
Water which has been contaminated with mercury and other toxic heavy metals is a major cause of environmental damage and health problems worldwide.
Fish can detox too -- but not so well, when it comes to mercury
By examining the tissues at a subcellular level, the researchers discovered yelloweye rockfish were able to immobilize several potentially toxic elements within their liver tissues (cadmium, lead, and arsenic) thus preventing them from interacting with sensitive parts of the cell.
Chemists disproved the universal nature of the mercury test
The mercury test of catalysts that has been used and considered universal for 100 years, turned out to be ambiguous.
Mercury rising: Are the fish we eat toxic?
Canadian researchers say industrial sea fishing may be exposing people in coastal and island nations to excessively high levels of mercury.
New estimates of Mercury's thin, dense crust
Michael Sori, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona, used careful mathematical calculations to determine the density of Mercury's crust, which is thinner than anyone thought.
Understanding Mercury's magnetic tail
Theoretical physicists used simulations to explain the unusual readings collected in 2009 by the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging mission.
More Mercury News and Mercury Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Processing The Pandemic
Between the pandemic and America's reckoning with racism and police brutality, many of us are anxious, angry, and depressed. This hour, TED Fellow and writer Laurel Braitman helps us process it all.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#568 Poker Face Psychology
Anyone who's seen pop culture depictions of poker might think statistics and math is the only way to get ahead. But no, there's psychology too. Author Maria Konnikova took her Ph.D. in psychology to the poker table, and turned out to be good. So good, she went pro in poker, and learned all about her own biases on the way. We're talking about her new book "The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Invisible Allies
As scientists have been scrambling to find new and better ways to treat covid-19, they've come across some unexpected allies. Invisible and primordial, these protectors have been with us all along. And they just might help us to better weather this viral storm. To kick things off, we travel through time from a homeless shelter to a military hospital, pondering the pandemic-fighting power of the sun. And then, we dive deep into the periodic table to look at how a simple element might actually be a microbe's biggest foe. This episode was reported by Simon Adler and Molly Webster, and produced by Annie McEwen and Pat Walters. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.