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Virus-Detecting "Lab On a Chip" Developed At BYU

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the size-does-matter dept.

Biotech 71

natharward writes "A new development in nano-level diagnostic tests has been applied as a lab on a chip that successfully screened viruses entirely by their size. The chip's traps are size-specific, which means even tiny concentrations of viruses or other particles won't escape detection. For medicine, this development is promising for future lab diagnostics that could detect viruses before symptoms kick in and damage begins, well ahead of when traditional lab tests are able to catch them. Aaron Hawkins, the BYU professor leading the work, says his team is now gearing up to make chips with multiple, progressively smaller slots, so that a single sample can be used to screen for particles of varying sizes. One could fairly simply determine which proteins or viruses are present based on which walls have particles stacked against them. After this is developed, Hawkins says, 'If we decided to make these things in high volume, I think within a year it could be ready.'"

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uhh...... (2, Funny)

madddddddddd (1710534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066774)

what happens when the chip identifies humanity as a virus?

Re:uhh...... (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066820)

Re:uhh...... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31066966)

Way to fail you dumb nigger. That quote is from Terminator 2. You fucking porch monkeys shouldn't be allowed on this site.

Re:uhh...... (1)

mmcxii (1707574) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067492)

It's the same line used by Kyle Reese in the first movie, you stupid bitch.

You've been terminated, fucker.

Re:uhh...... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067874)

They may be the same story. Just different parts of it: Sofia Stewart [google.com] .

Odd that Wikipedia seems to have eliminated the article about her claims.

Re:uhh...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31067470)

It's something to do with shoes, right? Maybe it'll identify women as a virus.

Re:uhh...... (1)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067528)

what happens when the chip identifies humanity as a virus?

Well, if you're keeping up on the news via Slashdot you'll find out about the destruction of mankind sometime around three months after the fact [deseretnews.com] .

Ah Slashdot, one of the few places where the phrase "new news" isn't redundant and "old news" isn't clichéd.

Re:uhh...... (1)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067574)

Comparisons between humanity and viruses might be fun in the Matrix and the like, but it is a really bad analogies. We're quite standard as mammals go. Agent Smith says in the Matrix:

"I'd like to share a revelation that I've had, during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you aren't actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with its surrounding environment, but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we... are the cure."

But this is ridiculous. Lot's of species do exactly this. It is quite difficult for species of any sort not to keep expanding until all resources are consumed, since each individual has an evolutionary incentive to do so. In fact, viruses and many other parasitical organisms are in some respects more restrained in some ways compared to mammals. The vast majority of viruses don't wipe out their host species. In contrast, some predatory species, including humans, do so. So if anything humans are worse. Don't knock the viruses. The only saving grace the humans have is the possibility that we might one day use our intelligence to deliberately prevent ourselves from over consumption of resources.

And why Smith seems to think that viruses and cancer have anything to do with each other isn't at all clear to me.

Re:uhh...... (1)

madddddddddd (1710534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067666)

your statements could also be twisted to assert that viruses have the right to do as they wish.

Re:uhh...... (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070500)

I fail to see how you could come to that conclusion based on the contents of GPs post. Please substantiate your accusation.

Re:uhh...... (0, Flamebait)

madddddddddd (1710534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067696)

And why Smith seems to think that viruses and cancer have anything to do with each other isn't at all clear to me.

they both consume until their host provides no further means to consume.

are you really going to post that many words and then ask a question only an idiot would?

also, i never mentioned a movie. my question was legitimate. thanks for being dumb.

Re:uhh...... (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31070560)

Well, if you insist on an answer: only an 'idiot' wouldn't know that a virus is much, much smaller than a human cell, and since the device from TFA identifies viruses by size (among other things) they wouldn't identify humans (or any other animal) as a virus.

> thanks for being dumb.

Re:uhh...... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31088858)

everything is relative and changing.

i'm not saying the chips TODAY. i'm asking about the evolved chips produced in the FUTURE.

idiot.

Murtha is dead? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31066782)

So long motherfucking shitball. It's time you got flushed.

BYU, eh? (-1, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066810)

It's a wonder how those Mormons can juggle their child brides and offspring and still be able to innovate.

...and y'all say that nerds never get any. Hmmph!

Re:BYU, eh? (-1, Offtopic)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066986)

Its a pretty good school

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byu#Rankings [wikipedia.org]

I wouldn't go there, but its got some high points academically.

How to tell if you have teh AIDs? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31066814)

If you had sex with a nigger, you have it.

Oh man, its one of those days... (3, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066824)

I read the whole summary twice thinking this had to do with computer viruses.

They even mention words like "Medicine" and "Proteins".

Oracle> INSERT "Monkeedude1212" INTO dual

AKA the Dummy table

Re:Oh man, its one of those days... (3, Funny)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066870)

Obviously you haven't had your Jimmy Dean breakfast.

Re:Oh man, its one of those days... (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066946)

What if your virus (biological) detecting chip gets a virus (computer)?

Re:Oh man, its one of those days... (1)

nicknamenotavailable (1730990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067186)

What if your virus (biological) detecting chip gets a virus (computer)?

They will swap (hex)base pairs and result in a silicone/biological hybrid intent on destroying its human creators.
Sorta like Skynet.

Re:Oh man, its one of those days... (1)

madddddddddd (1710534) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067314)

or Lt. Cmdr. Data

Re:Oh man, its one of those days... (1)

fatlotus (1434109) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067308)

Wow. Norton needs a dedicated chip to run on now.

Re:Oh man, its one of those days... (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067332)

yep and this one is already full of holes.

But will it work after the virus evolves? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31066850)

But can the chip detect a virus after it has evolved into a different strain? Considering their creationist views i doubt it.

Re:But will it work after the virus evolves? (2, Interesting)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066910)

Probably. 'Evolution' for viruses involve swapping or mutating a few base pairs. So I imagine the overall size/structure won't change much. I'd say the tricky part is not detecting a virus after it's mutated but in discerning a virus from molecules of a similar size and polarity.

Re:But will it work after the virus evolves? (1, Offtopic)

jhouserizer (616566) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066984)

Maybe this was a troll, but I'll respond anyway. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons) do believe that God created the Earth. Which is "creationism". However most LDS folks also believe in evolution (e.g. as part of God's creation) and BYU was one of the very first schools to teach evolution. Last year BYU had a big, well-publicized week-long celebration of Darwin's birthday that included many lectures on the importance of the discovery of evolution.

Re:But will it work after the virus evolves? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31067242)

I can't speak for everyone, but as a BYU alum and practicing LDS I believe that evolution is the mechanism through which God created the world... Just my $0.02.

Glad to give the world something besides television, and Twilight.

Re:But will it work after the virus evolves? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067390)

Maybe this was a troll, but I'll respond anyway. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (aka Mormons) do believe that God created the Earth. Which is "creationism". However most LDS folks also believe in evolution (e.g. as part of God's creation) and BYU was one of the very first schools to teach evolution. Last year BYU had a big, well-publicized week-long celebration of Darwin's birthday that included many lectures on the importance of the discovery of evolution.

That's not "Creationism" in the normal sense. Lots of Christians (non-fundamentalists) believe that God had some sort of hand in creating the earth, but they also believe in evolution as the specific mechanism for the changes in lifeforms that we have fossil evidence for in the past few hundred million years. Note also that Darwin's theory of evolution has no position at all on the actual creation of life (from non-life). It only theorizes that organisms mutate and adapt to their environment. It doesn't say where all the organisms came from in the first place, and that's the biggest problem every time the fundies complain about it; they can't seem to understand that the two are separate issues.

A true "Creationist" believes that God created the Earth with all the organisms that now inhabit it (plus a few now-extinct ones), and that's that; no organism ever evolved into a different species, reptiles didn't evolve from fish, birds didn't evolve from T-rex's ancestors, humans don't share a common ancestor with gorillas and chimps, etc.

So no, I don't think it's correct to call LDS people "creationists" by any means, because that lumps them in with all the 6000-year-old-Earth fundie Christians. To be fair, LDS have their own wacky beliefs (that God/Jehovah is but one god of many, and lives on the planet Kolob, that Jesus appeared to Meso-Americans after leaving Israel and that various things happened tere which are completely contradicted by all archaeological evidence, etc.), but let's not criticize them for things they don't actually believe in. At least they have the good sense to acknowledge that the Earth really is billions of years old as far as we can determine by physical evidence, and that evolution is a real thing by all available evidence (and they don't try to make up some "microevolution vs macroevolution" BS like that Creationist apologists).

Different Kinds of Creationists (1)

weston (16146) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067858)

So no, I don't think it's correct to call LDS people "creationists" by any means, because that lumps them in with all the 6000-year-old-Earth fundie Christians...

I think the distinction you're looking for is Young Earth Creationism [wikipedia.org] . There's also Old Earth Creationists, who may or may not believe in theistic evolution.

To be fair, LDS have their own wacky beliefs (that God/Jehovah is but one god of many, and lives on the planet Kolob,

*shrug* Once you believe in a supernatural, one set of beliefs isn't particularly more wacky than the next, just more or less familiar.

but let's not criticize them for things they don't actually believe in. At least they have the good sense to acknowledge that the Earth really is billions of years old as far as we can determine by physical evidence, and that evolution is a real thing by all available evidence (and they don't try to make up some "microevolution vs macroevolution" BS like that Creationist apologists).

The GP is correct that many Mormons and in particular those who pursue academic/scientific studies tend to believe in a kind of theistic evolution, but it's not accurate to say this is true of the whole. Mormon opinions run the span of the spectrum I described above. As far as I can tell there's never been an official position on the matter, but there have been authority figures who read Genesis and other creation-related canon literally, so you see Mormons arguing with each other on the topic fairly regularly if you know enough well enough. :)

Re:Different Kinds of Creationists (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067934)

*shrug* Once you believe in a supernatural, one set of beliefs isn't particularly more wacky than the next, just more or less familiar.

Wrong. There's a big difference, to me, between beliefs which cannot be proven or disproven, and beliefs which are blatantly disproven by available physical evidence. If someone believes that a "god" lives on some other planet, ok, that sounds pretty wacky to me, but there's no way for me to disprove that, at least not now when we have no manned spaceflight and certainly no interstellar travel. There's no way for me to disprove that some "god" appeared to someone and revealed stuff to them, which they told other people about and wrote in a book, which can't be scientifically disproven at this time.

However, when someone says the Earth is 6500 years old, that's not just wacky, it's insane, because there's plenty of physical evidence which directly contradicts this outlandish claim. Most of the foundations of many of our sciences (especially geology) directly refute this idea. What are you going to believe, the mountains of learning built up over centuries about geological processes, which anyone can see just by looking at a cliff or canyon wall, or some nutcases who try to ignore all this, making up even more insane excuses like "God put the fossils there to test your faith", "God set light particles from other galaxies in motion 6500 years ago so that they'd appear to be billions of years old", etc.?

The 6500-year-old Earth idea wasn't quite as crazy back in the middle ages when some bishop calculated it from biblical numbers, because back then they had no idea how old the earth was, and certainly didn't know anything about geology, plate tectonics, astronomy, the speed of light, etc. Now, however, you have to be a complete fool or insane to believe such a thing when so much physical, verifiable evidence directly contradicts it.

There's also Old Earth Creationists, who may or may not believe in theistic evolution.

Again, Evolution does NOT address the origins of life. It's a separate topic.

Re:Different Kinds of Creationists (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068294)

Wrong. There's a big difference, to me, between beliefs which cannot be proven or disproven, and beliefs which are blatantly disproven by available physical evidence.

Yes and no - I agree that if I had to choose between the two I would choose the former, but both are products of poor reasoning. If the only rational defence someone has of their viewpoint is that it has not been disproven than I can't really respect that kind of reasoning.

Your examples of insane excuses are also things that cannot be proven - yet you dismiss these, while partially defending equitable (from a rational point of view) views about gods that live on other planets, talking to people etc. This kind of supports the GP point about things being more or less familiar, rather than logical - not logical.

Re:But will it work after the virus evolves? (1)

CyberSaint (1376273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067824)

oh dear... Mormons are Intelligent Design believers, not Creationists specifically, there is a difference.

(Full disclosure, I'm an Agnostic, I don't believe in ID or Creationism, but was raised Mormon)

Re:But will it work after the virus evolves? (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068132)

Mormons are Intelligent Design believers

No, they certainly are not. Perhaps you should have paid a little more attention in sunday school.

Re:But will it work after the virus evolves? (1)

CyberSaint (1376273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31080374)

I'm not sure how you define ID, but the whole 'evolution is the observable effect God's master plan' sounds like ID to me.

Re:But will it work after the virus evolves? (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31103782)

Any biblical religion believes what the bible said, scooping Darwin by at least 5,000 years: "[Animals] were made fruitful and able to multiply -- in the sea and on the earth -- each after its own kind."

ID is not an excuse to teach creationism, as thought up by clever bible-thumpers. It is merely a heresy, crafted by perverting religion to meet a perverted science. It should be treated as such, and not used as a reason to hate anything but ID. Mormonism, as a religion, rejects ID. You might find a few idiots who attempt to coalesce the pseudoscience of ID with mormonism, but that is a personal religious compromise, which runs contrary to the teachings of their church.

This will never work (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066902)

My wife keeps telling me that size doesn't matter... how then can viruses be identified solely by their size? It's not how big the molecules are that are important, it's what the virus can do with them!

Re:This will never work (2, Funny)

aicrules (819392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066992)

It is also abnormal for virii to deliver their payload before the silky smooth target cells are ready.

Re:This will never work (2, Funny)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067910)

My wife keeps telling me that size doesn't matter

Who is she trying to convince?

Artificial immune system (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066920)

How about an implant which selectively traps virus particles, incinerates them and releases their component molecules?

Re:Artificial immune system (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070598)

I assume eventually the tubes would become clogged.

Re:Artificial immune system (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#31071484)

Or a filter, kinda like a dialysis machine, but for viruses.

But does it run linux? (4, Funny)

nicknamenotavailable (1730990) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066926)

That way you wouldn't need to worry about vir...

Oh,

sorry.

Re:But does it run linux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068170)

If you're looking for a fag disease like AIDS it would probably have to run Linux.

Fascinating (3, Interesting)

Anarchy245 (1729442) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066942)

It is amazing how technologies shown in Star Trek 45-15 years ago (esp TNG, and Voyager if I daresay) have brought to life by scientists who were inspired by its intellectual dialogue and its incredible technology. Many of the things Star Trek did...like teleporters and replicators, phasers and tricorders, and pads, we marvel at and sometimes wonder how they ever possibly could work, a seemingly impossible feat of mankind's ingenuity. And yet, over the years we have seen so many of them come to life; the Kindle and the iPAD awe me every time I see them. Consider also, MRI imaging. The ability to bring a momentarily-dead person back to life. Transplants of major organs and body parts. And now, possibly, the ability to measure the some of the most minute details of a human that we could possibly conceive. Is this another incredible step forward for mankind and his unrelenting technological, intellectual aspirations? I can't wait to see.

Re:Fascinating (5, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067032)

None of these things were invented by Star Trek. Maybe they were, as you say "shown there" but these ideas have been common in SF since at least the 1940s and quite likely a lot longer.

Re:Fascinating (1)

vvaduva (859950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067198)

What is more amazing is that the technology was in fact invented at a Mormon school, and as everyone knows, Battlestar Galactica is the obligatory connection.

So this story is really not about virus detection, but over whether or not Star Trek is really stealing technology from Battlestar Galactica!!

Re:Fascinating (2, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067288)

The medical technology shown on BSG was really rather primitive, compared to what you'd expect for a civilization that's had interstellar spaceflight for 2000 years and also had FTL drive and artificial gravity. Their sickbay didn't look much more advanced than what we currently have; I believe they even had what appeared to be a simple MRI machine, which the Dr. used to examine Baltar's head.

It's a Sieve (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31067630)

It's even more fascinating how the simplest things are the things that work, and how underdeveloped medicine is in so many ways. What they have invented is a sieve. Okay this is hard to do at small scales, so kudos to the researchers, but the concept is simple!

Re:Fascinating (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067792)

It certainly is nothing to sneeze at.

How the Chips Work (2)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 4 years ago | (#31066978)

The chips work like coin sorters, only they are much, much smaller. Liquids flow until they hit a wall where big particles get stuck and small particles pass through a super-thin slot at the bottom. Each chip’s slot is set a little smaller than the size of the particle to be detected. After the particles get trapped against the wall, they form a line visible with a special camera.

Obviously viruses are not like coins.
Obviously their orientation as they hit the walls and slots matters.

The trick is that this thing is designed to take a single small sample, run it through, and then see where the distribution lies.

Instead of giving a bunch of samples (or several large samples) to check for a bunch of virii in a bunch of tests, this serves as a single test to identify, or at least narrow down, the virus.

Magic Underwear (1, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067012)

Does this come with a free set of the magic underwear, or does that have to be bought separately?

Re:Magic Underwear (1)

DefenderOfTheFaith (1740798) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067906)

Does this come with a free set of the magic underwear, or does that have to be bought separately?

Since when is this funny? Religious bigotry isn't any less so because it's Slashdot.

Re:Magic Underwear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068004)

Mod parent up; s/bigotry/ingnorance though. BYU's science programs are very rigorous and at least respected enough that there was a rumor going around (when I was a CS student there) that there was a secret nuclear reactor somewhere on campus being used for research. I had roommates from all over the world, even post-grad Palestinians who were there and thought it was a remarkable place.

Re:Magic Underwear (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068396)

Yea, the reactor does exist, but it was shut down decades ago. It was used for nuclear decay/isotope sorts of experiments. It was never even close to having a critical mass.

Reactor site (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31069394)

Ah, this brings back fond memories of physics lab experiments long ago.

The reactor was located directly south of the Heber J. Grant (HGB) building about half way down the hill. You could reach it by going down the bike path or going down the stairs toward the botany pond and taking the foot path to the west. I think the building was once the heating plant for the HGB. A look at the satellite imagery on google maps shows the building is still there, tucked away in the trees right next to the bike path. Also, Google for "byu nuclear reactor" and you'll find a couple of references including a photo of the scientists monitoring the installation in 1967.

Re:Magic Underwear (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068208)

I grew up (mostly) in Utah. I have the utmost respect for the Mormons. I don't understand why everyone hates them or thinks they are crazy. They have always been kind and respectful to me and my family. I've even been to church with them.. seems normal enough to me. Pretty much the standard christian beliefs.

Okay guys... (4, Insightful)

tool462 (677306) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067100)

Looks like we have a namespace collision here.

I propose the following solution: All references to 'virus' should now point to one of the following (as appropriate).

Meatspace::virus
Bitspace::virus

That'll solve a lot of confusion (and render almost every single "Funny"-modded post in this thread irrelevant)

Thanks.

Re:Okay guys... (2, Funny)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067228)

Nah, computer viruses should just be called virii. It's a differentiation AND it'll annoy all the grammEr nazis. It's double plus good!

Re:Okay guys... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31070810)

All references to 'virus' should now point to one of the following (as appropriate). Meatspace::virus, Bitspace::virus

What's with the double-colon. Are you one of those smelly Perl hackers?

what about cinnamon (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31067158)

the first thing i thought when i read the article is what virus various common powdery substances would match with. flour, sugar, cinnamon, pepper, powdered dry wall, chalk dust, cokeane, nutmeg, etc.

Re:what about cinnamon (4, Informative)

Taibhsear (1286214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31067642)

Probably none.
Normal animal cell size: 10-30 micrometers
Normal plant cell size: 10-100 micrometers
Normal virus size: 10-300 nanometers

Not to mention the gap in the detector is smaller than plant and animal cells entirely:

They formed the third dimension by placing a 50 nanometer-thin layer of metal onto the chip, then topping that with glass deposited by gasses. Finally they used an acid to wash away the thin metal, leaving the narrow gap in the glass as a virus trap.

Re:what about cinnamon (1)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068154)

flour, sugar, cinnamon, pepper, powdered dry wall, chalk dust, cocaine, nutmeg, etc.

That would certainly explain why I like girl scout cookies so much...

DNA microarrays are likely highly superior (2, Interesting)

Michael G. Kaplan (1517611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068018)

DNA microarrays (also know as DNA chips) can already identify every virus ever discovered, and it can even identify undiscovered viruses by recognizing genetic sequences that are highly conserved among viruses. This type of chip first proved its worth in 2003 when it was used to identify SARS. The New York Times interviewed the inventor Joseph DeRisi about it [nytimes.com] :

We had just finished building the full version of our ViroChip, when we read about SARS in the newspapers. We literarily begged the C.D.C. to send us samples of the virus. Once we had it, we immediately put it onto a chip. In less than 24 hours we confirmed that this was a novel coronavirus. We confirmed the ViroChip’s finding by subsequently sequencing this virus’s genome. This had never in history happened before.

It is not yet evident what, if any, advantage this other chip that hopes to identify viruses by their size will have.

it's about money... (3, Interesting)

tempest69 (572798) | more than 4 years ago | (#31069328)

Microarrays are expensive. The technology requires quite a few steps, so affymetrix chips are amazingly cheap all things considered.
This technology is a glass sieve.. modern technology can do this cheaply at scale.
The awesome factor is that a raman spectrometer could probably be used to nail down some of the ambiguities for similar sized proteins. As a thin glass layer will be transparent, and the samples are in predefined locations. Since youve got to optically scan the sample anyway, why not get a raman read in the process.
And the data analysis is much more straightforward.. with a genechip, you look for a specific pattern, which may be weird if you have viruses in a sample. Where size sorting gets single on-off data points which indicate a virus of size-x which will correspond to one (possibly more) viruses.. it narrows the search pretty fast if you have yes-no answers. Plus you can do a targeted microarray when you have a narrow search field. But most of the time - sorting cold from flu from ebola and hiv is enough.
I kinda suspect that this might be pretty quick to run, as the virus only needs to move a minute (.005-.5mm-ish id supose) amount, and an ultracentrifuge can make short work of sorting much larger samples that need to separate proteins by a few millimeters. But hey, what do I know?
Storm

Could do it this way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31068392)

Interesting way to go about things. There are other ways:

http://combimatrix.com/products_fludetector.htm

several questions (1)

Rutulian (171771) | more than 4 years ago | (#31068834)

Ok, so I read the article--unsurprisingly it was light on the details. The sieve idea is good, but a few questions come to mind,

1) How are you going to do the actual virus identification? Most of the current techniques require an amplification step because you need enough signal to measure. It is great to be able to isolate small amounts, but not if you can't do anything with it. Morphological identification is one way to go, but you can only get species information that way (sometimes). You can't get strain information (ie: you know you have a flu virus, but which one?).

2) On the same line as 1), if you are going to amplify it to do some kind of test, how are you going to do that? Some viruses replicate easily (ie: in bacteria). Others don't. Almost all viruses are fairly fragile, so will they still be viable after being gathered on the chip?

3) How are you going to use this for diagnostic purposes. You can't just squirt blood onto this thing. You would need to prepare the sample in some way (to precipitate proteins, organelles, and structure polysaccharides) or else you will gunk up the chip and have a large background signal.

An interesting technology for sure, but this sort of stuff needs to be thought through if it is going to be useful in any kind of clinical way.

To think that I'm still using checksums! (1)

zlel (736107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31069462)

And i thought MD5 had collision problems!

Nothing to see here, move along (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31069724)

After reading TFA, it is quite clear that there is nothing new or revolutionary in this work. There are a large number of other methods for concentrating particles in microfluidic flow based on size, and there is nothing specific about this technique that somehow makes it better than other methods. To top it all off, they don't actually do any virus detection at low levels. Just FUD like "it could accumulate many particles over time that otherwise might be missed by other tests" without any data actually showing that this technique enables ultra-sensitive virus detections. As someone who has published in Lab on a Chip, I have read a great many papers in that publication and pretty much 95% of all the papers will read just the same. I guess these guys got their press office to do a good job at 'spinning' the story.

So move along. And one more thing to note, if this was really as revolutionary as it is claimed to be, it would have been published in Science, Nature or PNAS. Lab on Chip is not the premier journal for chip based research, it just gets a lot of the hand me downs that were never good enough to make it to the really big name, high-impact journals.

These guys are doing it with paper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31069736)

http://www.ted.com/talks/george_whitesides_a_lab_the_size_of_a_postage_stamp.html

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