Olivia Hallisey, a 16-year old teenager from Connecticut has invented an express test to detect the deadly Ebola virus in just 30 minutes at a cost of $25, which in turn helped her grab the top prize at the Google Science Fair.
16-year-old girl invents fastest Ebola test in the world, wins Google prize
Much unlike currents test methods for the Ebla strain, Hallisey’s test only takes half an hour to show the Ebola virus and does not require any refrigeration at all.
Hallisey, who is a sophomore at Greenwich High School. Came up with what she calls a “novel, temperature-independent, rapid, simple and inexpensive Ebola detection platform.”
“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,” explains Hallisey on her project website.
Much unlike currents test methods for the Ebola strain, Hallisey’s test only takes half an hour to show the Ebola virus and does not require any refrigeration at all.
Although Hallisey’s method is 25 times more expensive at $25, it is also 24 times faster than te tests that are currently available – and minutes do matter when it comes to Ebola.
“It is estimated with early diagnosis and medical treatment, Ebola fatality rates of up to 90% would decline by approximately 50 percent,” Hallisey says.
The teenager used silk fibers, which possess stabilizing properties, and current Ebola ELISA reagents, utilizing all of the same components of a regular Ebola test – antibodies and chemicals that cause the test to change colors if the Ebola proteins are present in a patient’s blood.
Hallisey then used the silk-stabilized chemicals to “construct a four-channel, paper-based, fluidic detection card,” where reagents would react with a patient’s Ebola antigens.
“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 (colored) result confirmed the presence of 500pg/ml Ebola(+)control antigens,” wrote Hallisey.
Hallisey was awarded with a $50,000 scholarship for her breakthrough as a prize at Google’s annual Science Fair, an online competition for kids between 13 and 18-years old.
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