uses nanotechnology to quickly diagnose Zika virus<p>​Washington University in St. Louis researchers have developed a test that quickly detects the presence of Zika virus in blood.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/WashU%20engineering%20Zika.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​Currently, testing for Zika requires that a blood sample be refrigerated and shipped to a medical center or laboratory, delaying diagnosis and possible treatment. Although the new proof-of-concept technology has yet to be produced for use in medical situations, the test’s results can be determined in minutes. Further, the materials required for the test do not require refrigeration and may be applicable in testing for other emerging infectious diseases.</p><p>Findings from the small study — from Washington University <a href="">School of Medicine</a> and the School of Engineering & Applied Science — is available online in the journal Advanced Biosystems.</p><p>The researchers tested blood samples taken from four people who had been infected with Zika virus and compared it to blood from five people known not to have the virus. Blood from Zika-infected patients tested positive, but blood from Zika-negative controls did not. The assay produced no false-positive results.</p><p>Among the reasons such a test is needed, according to the researchers, is that many people infected with Zika don’t know they’re infected. Although symptoms include fever, joint pain, muscle pain and rash, many people don’t feel ill after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Testing is particularly important for pregnant women because Zika infection can cause congenital Zika syndrome, which contributes to several neurologic problems in the fetus or newborn infant.</p><p>“Zika infection is often either asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic,” said <a href="">Evan D. Kharasch, MD, PhD</a>, one of the study’s three senior investigators. “The most effective way to diagnose the disease is not to wait for people to develop symptoms but to do population screening.”</p><p>That strategy requires inexpensive, easy-to-use and easy-to-transport tests. Kharasch, the Russell D. and Mary B. Shelden Professor of Anesthesiology, collaborated with <a href="/Profiles/Pages/Srikanth-Singamaneni.aspx">Srikanth Singamaneni</a> an associate professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, and <a href="">Jeremiah J. Morrissey</a> a research professor of anesthesiology, to create the test, which uses gold nanorods mounted on paper to detect Zika infection within a few minutes.</p> <p>“If an assay requires electricity and refrigeration, it defeats the purpose of developing something to use in a resource-limited setting, especially in tropical areas of the world,” said Singamaneni. “We wanted to make the test immune from variations in temperature and humidity.”</p><p>The test relies on a protein made by Zika virus that causes an immune response in infected individuals. The protein is attached to tiny gold nanorods mounted on a piece of paper. The paper then is completely covered with tiny, protective nanocrystals. The nanocrystals allow the diagnostic nanorods to be shipped and stored without refrigeration prior to use.</p><p>To use the test, a technician rinses the paper with slightly acidic water, removing the protective crystals and exposing the protein mounted on the nanorods. Then, a drop of the patient’s blood is applied. If the patient has come into contact with the virus, the blood will contain immunoglobulins that react with the protein.</p><p>“We’re taking advantage of the fact that patients mount an immune attack against this viral protein,” said Morrissey. “The immunoglobulins persist in the blood for a few months, and when they come into contact with the gold nanorods, the nanorods undergo a slight color change that can be detected with a hand-held spectrophotometer.</p><p>“With this test, results will be clear before the patient leaves the clinic, allowing immediate counseling and access to treatment.”</p><blockquote>The color change cannot be seen with the naked eye, but the scientists are working to change that. They’re also working on developing ways to use saliva rather than blood.</blockquote><p>Although the test uses gold, the nanorods are very small. The researchers estimate that the cost of the gold used in one of the assays would be 10 to 15 cents.</p><p>As other infectious diseases emerge around the world, similar strategies potentially could be used to develop tests to detect the presence of viruses that may become problematic, according to the researchers.<br/></p><p> <br/> </p> <span> <hr/></span> <p>Jiang Q, Chandar YJ, Cao S, Kharasch ED, Singamaneni S, Morrissey JJ. Rapid, point-of-care, paper-based plasmonic biosensor for Zika virus diagnosis. Advanced Biosystems, published online Aug. 10, 2017.<br/></p><p>This work was supported by the National Science Foundation, grant numbers CBET1254399 and CBET1512043. Additional funding was provided by the Department of Anesthesiology, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Washington University in St. Louis.</p><p> <a href="">Washington University School of Medicine</a>‘s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of <a href="">Barnes-Jewish</a> and <a href="">St. Louis Children’s</a> hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient-care institutions in the nation, currently ranked seventh in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to <a href="">BJC HealthCare</a>.<br/></p>​<br/><br/><br/> <div><div class="cstm-section"><h3>Srikanth Singamaneni<br/></h3><div style="text-align: center;"> <strong><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Lan-Yang.aspx"><img src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Singamaneni_Srikanth.jpg?RenditionID=3" alt="Srikanth Singamaneni" style="margin: 5px;"/></a><br/> </strong> </div><div style="text-align: center;"> <span style="font-size: 12px;">Associate Professor<br/>Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science<br/><a href="/Profiles/Pages/Srikanth-Singamaneni.aspx">>> View Bio</a></span></div><div style="text-align: center;"></div></div></div> <br/> <div> <span> <div class="cstm-section"><h3>Media Coverage<br/></h3><div> <strong>KWMU St. Louis Public Radio: </strong> <a href="">Taking a test for Zika could someday be as easy as taking a pregnancy test</a><br/></div><div> <br/> </div><div> <strong style="color: #343434;">Nano Magazine: </strong><span style="color: #343434;"></span><a href="" style="background-color: #ffffff;">Diagnosing Zika virus quickly with nanotechnology test</a><br/></div></div></span><br/> </div>First author and engineering doctoral student Qisheng Jiang (left) works with senior author Jerry Morrissey on a test to detect Zika virus with gold nanorods mounted on a small piece of paper.Jim Dryden​Washington University in St. Louis researchers have developed a test that quickly detects the presence of Zika virus in blood.<p>​<span style="color: #787878; font-family: "open sans", sans-serif; font-size: 22px;">May be possible to use approach with other emerging infectious diseases</span><br/></p> to hold nanotechnology workshop for area high school students<p>​Damena Agonafer, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, has received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to host a workshop for St. Louis-area high school students from groups underrepresented in STEM fields.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Agonafer,%20Damena.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>The integrated research and outreach workshop, planned to be held in summer 2018, is designed to bridge the gap between engineering research and high school science curriculum. Agonafer would invite about 50 students from the university’s College Prep Program, which prepares high-achieving students with limited financial resources for college and is led by Leah Merrifield, assistant vice chancellor for community engagement and St. Louis college readiness initiatives.</p><p style="color: #000000; font-family: "times new roman"; font-size: medium;"></p><p>Agonafer plans to introduce the concepts of interfacial phenomena and multi-phase heat transfer to the students, with the goal of inspiring them to pursue education in the STEM fields as well as to convey the importance of surface engineering in solving future problems in engineering.<br/></p>Damena Agonafer2017-08-09T05:00:00ZDamena Agonafer has received a one-year, $50,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to host a workshop for St. Louis-area high school students from groups underrepresented in STEM fields. spotlight: Stuart Brown, AB '77, BS '77<p>​​For Stuart Brown, AB ’77, BS ’77, a top-tier Washington University education afforded him various opportunities for growth as an undergraduate, as well as an enduring support system that has remained strong, even after 40 years. Through regular giving, Brown—who has given consecutively for the last nine years—looks to give back to the university that has given so much to him.<br/></p><img alt="" src="/news/PublishingImages/WashU%20Engineering%20Alumni%20Stuart%20Brown.jpg?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><h3>First, would you mind briefly sharing a bit about what you have been up to since graduating from Washington University?</h3><p>The past 40 years have been full. After Washington University, I travelled west to Stanford where I earned a master’s degree in business administration and a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. After two years working for an engineering consulting firm, I moved east to pursue my PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT. I then joined the faculty of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. I left MIT in 1995 to become the director of the Boston office of Exponent, a scientific and engineering consulting firm. During that time I married my wife who was in medical training and who subsequently became a child and adolescent psychiatrist, currently working at Cambridge Hospital. We have two daughters, one who just finished college and another who is starting this fall.</p><p>I left Exponent in 2005 to start Veryst Engineering, a high-end engineering consulting firm in the Boston area, using testing and simulation to help clients in product development. I consider myself fortunate to enjoy coming to work every day.<br/><br/></p><h3>What inspired you to make your first gift to Washington University?</h3><p>I owe WashU so much. The university enabled me to pursue my education on a Langsdorf scholarship. The university also offered opportunities to work abroad, participate in student government, and form strong and lasting friendships. I also received support from faculty and the administration, including Chancellor Danforth, to whom I offer tremendous gratitude.<br/><br/></p><h3>Why do you think it is important for alumni to give to Washington University year after year?</h3><p>I think that we can accumulate value to the school by regular giving, achieving a greater effect than by occasional donations.<br/><br/></p><h3>Looking back on your time at WashU, what is one of your favorite memories?</h3><p>There’s no question that the friendships formed are one of my strongest memories. It’s striking that they are still so strong after 40 years.<br/><br/></p><h3>Are you involved/connected with Washington University in other ways? If so, how?</h3><p>I participate in the <a href="" target="_blank">Reunion </a>effort and also encourage local high school students to consider WashU [through the <a href="" target="_blank">Alumni & Parents Admission Program</a>]. <br/><br/></p><h3>What is your favorite spot on campus or in St. Louis?</h3><p>One of my favorite spots was <a href="" target="_blank">Holmes Lounge</a>. At the time, it was a noisy and comfortable place to relax with a cup of coffee.<br/></p>Stuart Brownalumni.wustl.edu"I left Exponent in 2005 to start Veryst Engineering, a high-end engineering consulting firm in the Boston area, using testing and simulation to help clients in product development."<p>9 years loyal<br/></p> earns Siteman Investment Program Award<img alt="" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Pathak_Amit.jpg?RenditionID=1" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>​<a href="/Profiles/Pages/Amit-Pathak.aspx">Amit Pathak</a>, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, has received a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center. The 2017 Siteman Investment Program Pre-R01 award will fund a project titled “Memory-Plasticity Crosstalk in Cancer Cells.” The Siteman Investment Program awards pilot funding to faculty investigators to support pioneering cancer research and to produce data that may lead to external peer-reviewed funding.<br/></p>Amit Pathak2017-07-10T05:00:00Z​Amit Pathak's award will fund a project titled “Memory-Plasticity Crosstalk in Cancer Cells.” honored at Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference<img alt="" src="/Profiles/PublishingImages/Taber_Larry.jpg?RenditionID=2" style="BORDER:0px solid;" /><p>Larry Taber, the Dennis & Barbara Kessler Professor of Biomedical Engineering, was recently honored in a special tribute at the 2017 Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference in Tuscon, Ariz., for his 39-year career in developmental biomechanics and tissue growth and remodeling. Taber is retiring June 30.<br/><br/>For the tribute, Taber's longtime colleague, including Philip Bayly, the Lilyan & E. Lisle Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering and chair of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, as well as former students, gave talks at a special session.<br/><br/>Taber has published more than 100 journal entries on topics including cochlear mechanics, cardiovascular mechanics, and the mechanics of growth and development. He is the only three-time winner of the Richard Skalak Award for the best paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering – in 2004, 2007 and 2015.​</p>Larry Taber2017-07-06T05:00:00ZLarry Taber is the only three-time winner of the Richard Skalak Award for the best paper published in the Journal of Biomedical Engineering – in 2004, 2007 and 2015.​