Sep 27, 2015 10:48 PM EDT
At a cost of $25, the deadly Ebola virus that caused death to more than a thousand lives can now be detected in a matter of 30 minutes, all thanks to Olivia Hallisey, a young scientist who bagged the top prize of the recent 2015 Google Science Fair.
The Connecticut-based sophomore from Greenwich High School invented the much needed "novel temperature-dependent, rapid, simple and inexpensive Ebola detection platform."
According to her portfolio found in the Google Science Fair website, "Current methods of Ebola detection utilize enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay ("ELISA") detection kits which cost approximately $1,00 each, require complex instrumentation, trained medical professionals to administer, and up to 12 hours from testing to diagnosis. The kits require the unbroken refrigeration of reagents from point of manufacture to point of use (the "cold chain"), making the ability to diagnose in remote areas, where refrigeration is often nonexistent or unreliable, highly problematic if not impossible."
Hallisey utilized silk fibres and Ebola ELISA reagents, and all the properties needed to cause a change of colour if the virus is detected in the blood. Add a simple serum sample and water, and the kit can start saving lives.
"In this new device, that is stable and stored at room temperature, 30µl drops of water were used to dissolve silk-embedded reagents, initiating a timed-flow towards a center detection zone, where a positive (coloured) result confirmed the presence of 500pg/ml Ebola(+)control antigens," she said.
Despite lack of symptoms, Hallisey's express kit can detect the virus twenty four times the usual. What's more, Ebola antibodies can stand for a week without refrigeration.
The teenager hopes to decrease the mortality rate of Ebola virus to nearly half, that is, from 90% to 50%, if early detection and treatment is prompt.
Furthermore, she was awarded a $50,000 scholarship by Google and plans to go to college and join humanitarian organizations like Doctors Without Borders.
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