Purdue University researchers are developing an integrated medical sensing platform

Researchers at Purdue University are developing an integrated biosensing platform designed to detect and monitor mosquito-borne diseases faster and cheaper than existing methods to help prevent viral outbreaks and their devastating effects.

Lia A Stanciu, Purdue Professor of Materials Engineering, is leading the research and development of the technology. The other researchers are Ernesto Marinero, professor of materials engineering and electrical and computational engineering; and Richard Kuhn, professor and department chair of biological sciences and director of Purdue University’s Institute of Inflammation, Immunology and Infectious Diseases. Kuhn also led the first research team to determine the structure of the Zika virus.

“More than one billion people in the world suffer from one or more neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). These diseases, such as dengue fever, yellow fever and West Nile virus, are classified as NTDs because they are largely Impacting the poor in developing countries is a low public health priority for developed continents like North America and Europe,” Marinero said. “NTDs, as well as Zika, are transmitted by vectors such as mosquitoes and ticks. Climate change and increased travel have led to the steady spread of these types of diseases around the world, increasing the need for better surveillance and detection methods to help prevent outbreaks. “

Current testing methods for neglected tropical diseases are often time-consuming, expensive and complex, Stanciu said. “Laboratory techniques to detect the virus are inefficient and require patients to go to the hospital and wait for a period of time to get results, which is not always feasible in developing countries,” she said. “By the time people realize they need to start monitoring the disease, it is often too late and an outbreak has already occurred. We hope our technology will be the first to detect and monitor the disease so that preventive measures can be taken to avoid or mitigate devastating The impact of the outbreak.”


Stanciu, Marinero, and Kuhn developed an amperometric biosensor utilizing functionalized nanoparticles that specifically bind target viral DNA or RNA. When binding occurs, the device resistance changes, and the sensor uses this change to unequivocally detect the presence of the virus. Sensors can then determine whether and how much virus is present in the blood or mosquito sample. Sensors rely on agents that respond only to the expected virus to be detected.

“We’ve used mosquito samples on our lab-scale sensor, and we’ve been able to detect viruses with high sensitivity to low concentrations of the virus,” Stanciu said. “We’re particularly interested in dengue and Zika because it’s the same mosquito that transmits both diseases, so our technology can quickly detect one of them using the same platform,” says Marinero, who plans to further develop the device’s There are many ways.

“Our overarching goal is to provide an easy-to-use point-of-care, possibly personal device. This will allow people to detect the virus in time without having to go to the hospital, which has major implications for developing countries,” he said. “However, we are also developing an autonomous device that can be deployed in remote field areas that are difficult to access or difficult to detect on-site to monitor outbreaks in these areas.”

The device will operate over a low-power wireless network and will use thin-film rechargeable batteries combined with thin-film photovoltaic cells to provide power and energy to the environment to maintain functionality and performance without human intervention. When disease is detected in mosquito samples, it alerts health control officials about potential threats. Stanciu said they are seeking funding to further develop the technology.

“At this point, we are satisfied that our technology is achieving its goals in the lab, and we are ready to start prototyping. The funding will allow us to develop autonomous capabilities that will allow the device to be deployed remotely,” she said. “As Zika outbreaks and other mosquito-borne viruses become more common, we think building a biosensor platform that uses chips to detect a variety of viruses in a single device could make a real difference in mitigating the spread of these diseases and helping the role of people all over the world.”

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