May 5, 2009
A $20 chip can cut the time it takes to distinguish swine flu—aka the H1N1 influenza A virus—from days to hours, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said today.
The technology—InDevR, Inc.'s FluChip—includes normal 0.8- by 2-inch (2- by 5-centimeter) lab slides featuring a pencil-eraser sized patch of tiny dots containing pieces of influenza's genome. Researchers place a drop of a solution containing a sample of chemically amplified RNA (which the viruses use to make proteins) from the virus they're studying onto the slide. Once the dots react with the solution, the FluChip is placed in a 4-pound (1.8-kilogram) IntelliChip Reader where it's scanned and a digital image is produced that can help physicians identify an influenza virus down to its subtype. The process takes about seven hours.
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