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Microfluidic Device with Fluorescent Sensor Detects Ebola

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A faculty-researcher at Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has developed a prototype microdevice with biosensors that can detect the Ebola virus. The microfluidic device is an automated chip with a highly sensitive fluorescence sensing unit embedded in it.

The device uses CRISPR gene-editing technology to detect the nucleic acid markers that indicate Ebola. Patient samples are added into the device, and Ebola RNA is seen by activating the CRISPR mechanism. In test environments, the Ebola RNA could be detected within five minutes by combining automated sample processing, fluorescence sensing, and the CRISPR-Cas13a assay. The custom integrated fluorometer is small in size and convenient for in-field diagnosis. 

Ke Du, back row, center, a faculty-researcher in RIT’s Kate Gleason College of Engineering, developed a microfluidic device with a fluorescence sensing unit that utilizes CRISPR gene-editing technology to detect the markers that indicate Ebola virus. Courtesy of Rochester Institute of Technology.
Professor Ke Du, back row center, and his team developed a microfluidic device with a fluorescence sensing unit that utilizes CRISPR gene-editing technology to detect the markers indicating Ebola virus. Courtesy of Rochester Institute of Technology.

The researchers are also developing a device that could detect multiple virus strains, from Ebola to influenza and Zika, for example. “For this work, we are trying to develop a low-cost device that is easy to use, especially for medical personnel working in developing countries or areas where there are outbreaks,” said professor Ke Du. “They’d be able to bring hundreds of these devices with them for testing, not just one virus or bacteria at one time, but many different kinds.”

As a point-of-care diagnostic platform, the new device could enable earlier detection and treatment of infectious diseases.

The research was published in ACS Sensors ( 

Jul/Aug 2019
The emission of light or other electromagnetic radiation of longer wavelengths by a substance as a result of the absorption of some other radiation of shorter wavelengths, provided the emission continues only as long as the stimulus producing it is maintained. In other words, fluorescence is the luminescence that persists for less than about 10-8 s after excitation.
An instrument used to measure the duration of fluorescence emanating from a biological sample to monitor and evaluate its condition.
Research & TechnologyeducationAmericasRochester Institute of TechnologybiosensorSensors & DetectorsfluorescencePoint-of-caremedicalBiophotonicslight sourcesebolainfectious diseasefluorometerBioScan

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