Scientific team from three universities designs novel platform to detect dengue fever

The National University of La Plata, the National University of Buenos Aires, and the National University of Tucumán are advancing the development of ViroSensAr, a biosensor platform for detecting viral infections such as dengue fever. “The idea is to monitor the course of the disease, the mosquitoes that transmit it and the serotypes that are circulating,” Omar Azzaroni, PhD in chemistry at the National University of Quilmes and coordinator of the project, told the National University Science News Service .” Quilmes, silver medal.

“With the Zaphyrus device, which is easy to administer and carry, we will be able to detect whether a person with dengue symptoms actually has the disease and what serotype it is. So we will create a map showing the serotype of different infected mosquitoes. where they spread, their characteristics or how they behave,” Azzaroni described.

To find out, the team contacted biological samples with sensor chips attached to Zaphyrus. “At this point, the device will generate a bioelectronic signal that automatically detects infection and serotype, and then uploads this information to a ‘dengue map’ that changes dynamically with the test,” the scientist explained to the agency.

Institutions participating in the project include the technology companies GISENS BIOTECH, Conicet, the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physical Chemistry of the National University of La Plata, the Institute of Chemistry of Materials, Environment and Energy, and the Institute of Physics of the University of Buenos Aires. and the Institute of Higher Biology depend on the National University of Tucumán. In addition, they have the support of the Tucumán government.

An unstoppable problem

“We have to remember that in some parts of Argentina, especially in the northwest, the health network is very unpopular, so we have to make it accessible to people living in more remote areas,” the scientist stressed.

Dengue fever is a febrile disease spread by the bite of the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The disease is spread when the insect feeds on the blood of a person infected with dengue fever and then bites other people. According to the Argentine Ministry of Health, as of the end of April this year, Argentina had registered a total of 71,717 cases, of which 65,195 were local cases. Its circulation has been determined in 16 jurisdictions: Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires Municipality, Córdoba, Entre Rios, Santa Fe, Corrientes, Formosa, Chaco, Catamarca, Jujuy, La Rioja, Salta, Santiago del Estero, Tucumán, San Luis and Mendoza. The northwest region is the most affected, with 31,536 cases.

Since its re-emergence in the country in 1998, four dengue serotypes (or different forms of the virus) have circulated in different years and to varying degrees: DENV-1, DENV-2, DENV-3 and DENV-4. The first one is the most prevalent from the late 1990s to the present, leading to epidemics in 2009, 2016, and 2020; on the other hand, the second event has a lower incidence and coverage than the first event, but It is the most common event of the year. According to the Argentinian Society of Microbiology, transmission of DENV-3 has been detected only in the province of Tucumán among cases registered as of April; the remaining variants have not been distinguished.

Additionally, when a person already infected with one dengue serotype is reinfected with another serotype, the risk of more severe symptoms increases. Therefore, it is also necessary to understand what types of viruses are present in each province, city, and town and where they are going.

They also tested it in hepatitis E

As a predictor, the scientific team aims to apply the same procedure to detect hepatitis E, an inflammation of the liver caused by infection with the virus of the same name. The World Health Organization estimates that there are approximately 20 million infections worldwide each year.

The disease is clinically indistinguishable from other types of acute viral hepatitis, the organism said. Suspicion arises when multiple cases are recorded in the same area, there is a risk of water contamination, pregnant women are more severely ill, or hepatitis A has been ruled out.

“What is unique about this project is that not only are Argentinian technology companies like GISENS BIOTECH, which conduct advanced developments on an international scale, involved, but we will use purely national technology to solve regional and local problems.” Azzaroni emphasized ..

By Luciana Mazzini Puga – UNQ Science News Service.

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