Nav: Home

Researchers shed new light on influenza detection

May 05, 2017

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have discovered a way to make influenza visible to the naked eye, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. By engineering dye molecules to target a specific enzyme of the virus, the team was able to develop a test kit that emitted fluorescent light when illuminated with a hand-held lamp or blue laser pointer.

Scientists used test samples that mimicked that of an infected patient, and spiked the samples with the enzyme, called neuraminidase, which had been purified from flu virus. The samples emit red fluorescent light as a positive indication of the influenza virus. Blue fluorescent light signals a negative result. The same process also allowed scientists to determine which of two approved antiviral drugs would be a better treatment option for the individual patient.

While still a prototype, researchers believe that with optimization the diagnostic could be developed to be used in point of care clinics or the home environment for a rapid, easy to interpret test for the presence of influenza.

"Viral cultures are the gold standard for diagnosis of influenza but take several days to develop. By targeting an enzyme inherent to the virus and identifying its presence in a sample, we can make a rapid determination of the influenza in a patient for an efficient and immediate diagnostic that would improve patient treatment and reduce overuse of antivirals," said Bradley Smith, Emil T. Hofman Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, director of the Notre Dame Integrated Imaging Facility and co-author of the study.

Smith and his team created a new method to detect neuraminidase, which is located on the surface of the virus. Researchers began by designing a dye molecule to emit red fluorescent light when it interacts with the neuraminidase. Following validation of enzyme recognition, researchers then tested the dye with two antiviral drugs used to treat influenza -- Zanamivir, also known as Relenza, and Oseltamivir, known widely as Tamiflu. The antivirals are neuraminidase inhibitors. Samples containing dye and neuraminidase were combined with each of the antivirals and illuminated. Red fluorescence indicated the enzyme was still active, meaning the antiviral failed to inhibit the virus in that patient. Blue light indicated the enzyme had been blocked, presenting an effective treatment option.

The study, which received funding from the National Science Foundation and Notre Dame's research initiative, Advanced Diagnostics and Therapeutics, focused specifically on fluorescence detection of the virus and efficacy of the two inhibitors. Smith's team hopes to build upon these results in the future.
-end-


University of Notre Dame

Related Influenza Articles:

Birds become immune to influenza
An influenza infection in birds gives a good protection against other subtypes of the virus, like a natural vaccination, according to a new study.
Researchers shed new light on influenza detection
Notre Dame Researchers have discovered a way to make influenza visible to the naked eye, by engineering dye molecules to target a specific enzyme of the virus.
Maternal vaccination again influenza associated with protection for infants
How long does the protection from a mother's immunization against influenza during pregnancy last for infants after they are born?
Influenza in the tropics shows variable seasonality
Whilst countries in the tropics and subtropics exhibit diverse patterns of seasonal flu activity, they can be grouped into eight geographical zones to optimise vaccine formulation and delivery timing, according to a study published April 27, 2016 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.
Influenza viruses can hide from the immune system
Influenza is able to mask itself, so that the virus is not initially detected by our immune system.
Using 'big data' to combat influenza
Team of scientists from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute among those who combined large genomic and proteomic datasets to identify novel host targets to treat flu.
Rapidly assessing the next influenza pandemic
Influenza pandemics are potentially the most serious natural catastrophes that affect the human population.
Early detection of highly pathogenic influenza viruses
Lack of appropriate drugs and vaccines during the influenza A virus pandemic in 2009, the recent Ebola epidemic in West Africa, as well as the ongoing Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus outbreak demonstrates that the world is only insufficiently prepared for global attacks of emerging infectious diseases and that the handling of such threats remains a great challenge.
Study maps travel of H7 influenza genes
In a new bioinformatics analysis of the H7N9 influenza virus that has recently infected humans in China, researchers trace the separate phylogenetic histories of the virus's genes, giving a frightening new picture of viruses where the genes are traveling independently in the environment, across large geographic distances and between species, to form 'a new constellation of genes -- a new disease, based not only on H7, but other strains of influenza.'
Influenza A potentiates pneumococcal co-infection: New details emerge
Influenza infection can enhance the ability of the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae to cause ear and throat infections, according to research published ahead of print in the journal Infection and Immunity.

Related Influenza Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Changing The World
What does it take to change the world for the better? This hour, TED speakers explore ideas on activism—what motivates it, why it matters, and how each of us can make a difference. Guests include civil rights activist Ruby Sales, labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, author Jeremy Heimans, "craftivist" Sarah Corbett, and designer and futurist Angela Oguntala.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#521 The Curious Life of Krill
Krill may be one of the most abundant forms of life on our planet... but it turns out we don't know that much about them. For a create that underpins a massive ocean ecosystem and lives in our oceans in massive numbers, they're surprisingly difficult to study. We sit down and shine some light on these underappreciated crustaceans with Stephen Nicol, Adjunct Professor at the University of Tasmania, Scientific Advisor to the Association of Responsible Krill Harvesting Companies, and author of the book "The Curious Life of Krill: A Conservation Story from the Bottom of the World".