Multi-step strip could be used to detect Ebola, other diseases

University of Rhode Island (URI) engineers have developed a paper-based diagnostic tool that uses fluid-activated valves to allow multiple steps in the detection of Ebola and other diseases, the university announced Monday.

Paper-based options have been available for tests only requiring one reagent, such as determining if someone is pregnant. Lead researcher Mohammad Faghri said that with fluid-activated valves, the testing strips have the potential to detect diseases such as Ebola or Lyme disease.

“If someone comes up with a new biomarker for detecting a disease, we can create a test for it using our platform,” Faghri said. "“It could even be used at airports to test fluids for possible bioterror agents."

The strips work as sample fluid reacts with reagents in a sequential manner that can lead to markers used in diagnostics. Faghri and adjunct URI professor of mechanical engineering Constantine Anagnostopoulos have established Labonachip, LLC to further develop and market the platform and related technology.

“Our next step is to find investors to help take us to the next level,” Anagnostopoulos said. “We’re looking to partner with medical or biological companies that have identified disease biomarkers or other molecules of interest for which we could develop tests for using our platform.”