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.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Related Mercury Articles:

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.
Mercury is altering gene expression
Mercury causes severe neurological disorders in people who have consumed highly contaminated fish.
Climate changes may lead to more poisonous mercury in plankton
Global warming is expected to increase runoff and input of organic matter to aquatic ecosystems in large regions of the Northern hemisphere including the Baltic Sea.
More Mercury News and Mercury Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Accessing Better Health
Essential health care is a right, not a privilege ... or is it? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can give everyone access to a healthier way of life, despite who you are or where you live. Guests include physician Raj Panjabi, former NYC health commissioner Mary Bassett, researcher Michael Hendryx, and neuroscientist Rachel Wurzman.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#544 Prosperity Without Growth
The societies we live in are organised around growth, objects, and driving forward a constantly expanding economy as benchmarks of success and prosperity. But this growing consumption at all costs is at odds with our understanding of what our planet can support. How do we lower the environmental impact of economic activity? How do we redefine success and prosperity separate from GDP, which politicians and governments have focused on for decades? We speak with ecological economist Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at the University of Surrey, Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Propserity, and author of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

An Announcement from Radiolab