Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Ebola Spotter

PostedSeptember 14, 2014

Anchor Lead: Quickly confirming cases of Ebola is critical to stopping outbreaks, but test equipment is bulky and expensive…and getting results takes hours at best.

Randy Atkins: Enter a new device developed in the engineering lab of Selim Unlu at Boston University. It’s half the size of a home computer and…

Selim Unlu: …we are hoping that once all the instrumentation is refined we’ll be able to go from sample to answer in about half an hour.

Randy Atkins: Unlu says it can test even unprocessed blood, using a chip coated with Ebola virus snagging antibodies. Viruses are so tiny they can’t usually be seen by a light microscope, but Unlu’s group is using a special technique to amplify reflected light waves…

Selim Unlu: …and now something that is invisible because it didn’t have sufficient contrast pops up so you can see individual viral particles.

Randy Atkins: Enough, he says, to identify the size and shape of individual viruses…and positively I-D Ebola. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.

Anchor Tag: The researchers still fine-tuning and testing the device.