Groundbreaking study uses small chip to immediately detect Zika, stage of infection

February 10, 2019

SAN ANTONIO – A groundbreaking new study could soon take the guessing out of Zika treatment.

The Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio is working with a team at the University of California Santa Cruz to help find an immediate way to diagnose Zika and determine the infection’s stage.

The chip is only a few inches long, but local researchers are proving its power by taking bodily fluids infected with Zika and letting the chip detect the virus.

“Very small amounts of fluid, and the device just looks at what’s in the fluid and detects it immediately,” said Texas Biomed professor Dr. Gene Patterson.

It’s that immediacy Patterson said makes the research groundbreaking.

She leads the Texas Biomed portion of the study and said never before has technology been able to detect the Zika virus in real time and pinpoint how far the infection has progressed.

That is crucial information when it comes to treatment.

“Many of our antivirals work only early in infection, and they’re less effective (later), so if you know you’re early in infection, you can certainly be prescribed some antivirals. If it’s later, you might not want to bother or you may have other sources of treatments that you would do later in infection,” Patterson said.

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