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Device to Detect Viruses and Bacteria in Aerosols and Bodily Fluids for Point-of-Care Use

Primes Nucleic Acids for In-field Pathogen Analysis Without Lab Equipment

This device enables preparation of collected RNA and DNA samples for enrichment, amplification, and analysis, allowing point-of-care detection of infectious microorganisms. International travel and dense city populations increase the ability of infectious diseases, such as Zika or influenza viruses, to cause global epidemics. Infectious airborne diseases are particularly fatal and cause over 5 million annual deaths worldwide. Current viral and bacterial detection procedures rely upon isolating RNA to differentiate strains and determine treatment approaches. However, present detection mechanisms such as culture and nucleic acid amplification, such as polymerase chain reactions, are time-consuming, require a controlled environment and specific equipment, or cannot evaluate small samples of microorganisms, rendering their use unrealistic outside of a lab.

Researchers at the University of Florida have developed a sample preparation device for isolating nucleic acids from viruses and bacteria. Combining sequential nucleic acid purification, amplification and analysis systems allows detection of microorganism DNA and RNA in the field.



  • Combines nucleic acid enrichment, amplification and detection into one device, improving upon present laboratory operation involving several apparatuses and procedures
  • Requires fewer personnel, materials and time to operate, permitting in-field use
  • Includes a pourable sample dish to move materials undergoing purification, allowing movement of amplified solutions to glassware with ease
  • Easily purifies aerosol based samples, indicating potential applications as an air quality or environmental monitoring device
  • Prepares bodily fluids for nucleic acid detection, indicating potential applications as a pathogen detection device at the point of care


Samples of collected microorganisms filter into a lysis chamber, where they are stripped down to their component nucleic acids. Once isolated, the genetic material moves to the purification chamber. The sample then strains through a collector in the chamber, which prepares DNA or RNA for the purification process. A mechanical coupling mechanism links the collector unit with the adjacent buffer unit, allowing immersion of genetic material within the chamber into multiple liquids. Inside the device, ball-bearing valves release one binding buffer and two wash buffers in sequence. The sample then detaches for heating, allowing DNA or RNA to amplify into millions of copies of the genetic material. Once the heating cycle ends, colorimetric dyes can stain the sample, allowing for further observation and detection of the purified nucleic acids. Journal article: Jiang, X., Loeb, J., Manzanas, C., Lednicky, J., & Fan, Z. (2018). Valve-enabled Sample Preparation and RNA Amplification in a Coffee Mug for Zika Virus Detection. Angewandte Chemie International Edition. doi: 10.1002/anie.201809993

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