Sep 5, 2018 | By Thomas

Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin developed a 3D printed diagnostic tool to easily identify disease-spreading Aedes aegypti mosquitoes and determine whether the bug has come into contact with a mosquito-control strategy known as Wolbachia.

“Many of these diseases are spreading in areas where they weren’t common before,” said Sanchita Bhadra, a research associate in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and first author on the paper. “Having surveillance is important in conjunction with any kind of outbreak, and this method allows a rapid test in the field.”

Research educator Timothy E. Riedel, research associate Sanchita Bhadra and student Nicole Pederson are part of the UT Austin team. Vivian Abagiu

The tool utilizes a smartphone camera, a small 3D-printed box with a simple chemical test to show if a dead mosquito belongs to the Aedes aegypti, a widespread species of mosquito that carries Zika and other devastating viruses that affect more than 100 million people worldwide each year. The species also is also linked to the tripling of cases of mosquito-borne diseases in the United States since 2004.

The 3D printed diagnostic tool also detects the presence of a biopesticide called Wolbachia, a type of bacteria that stops the virus from replicating inside the mosquitoes that transmit the disease. Wolbachia are present in up 60% of insect species, however, it is not usually found in the Aedes aegypti mosquito. For many years, scientists have been looking for ways to use it to potentially control the mosquitoes that transmit human diseases.

Existing diagnostic technology requires a complex process to extract nucleic acid from inside mosquitoes, often after they have been dead for days and have started to decay, leading to great expense and the possibility of more errors in lab tests. The 3D printed diagnostic tool, however, can be used anywhere. It tests mosquitoes’ nucleic acid without requiring a complicated process to remove it. The tool is officially called 'loop-mediated isothermal amplification and oligonucleotide strand displacement', or LAMP OSD, where a probe delivers a simple yes-or-no readout on a cellphone, with accuracy of greater than 97%.

“This test can happen without involving a lot of staff and equipment to make sure Wolbachia is effective and spreading as anticipated,” Bhadra said. "What our test does at the end is it produces either a very bright fluorescent light if what were are looking for is present, for example Aedes Aegyptis, and if that's not present, it is very dark."

The researchers said they conducted a successful test of nearly 100 mosquitoes in Galveston. The team is also exploring use of the technology to easily identify whether trapped mosquitoes are carrying Zika, dengue and other pathogens.

The research appears in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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