Kamfai Chan, Scott C. Weaver, Pui-Yan Wong, Sherly Lie, Eryu Wang, Mathilde Guerbois, Siva Praneeth Vayugundla & Season Wong
Zika virus (ZIKV) has gained global attention as an etiologic agent of fetal microcephaly and GuillainBarré syndrome. Existing immuno-based rapid tests often fail to distinguish between Zika and related flaviviruses that are common in affected regions of Central and South Americas and the Caribbean. The US CDC and qualified state health department laboratories can perform the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) ZIKV test using highly sophisticated instruments with long turnaround times. The preliminary results of a portable and low-cost molecular diagnostics system for ZIKV infection are reported here. In less than 15 minutes, this low-cost platform can automatically perform high quality RNA extraction from up to 12 ZIKV-spiked urine samples simultaneously. It can also perform reverse transcription recombinase polymerase amplification reaction (RT-RPA) in ≤15 minutes. The fluorescent signal produced from probe-based RT-RPA or RT-PCR assays can be monitored using LEDs and a smartphone camera. In addition, the RT-RPA and RT-PCR assays do not cross-react with dengue and chikungunya viral RNA. This low-cost system lacks complicated, sensitive and high cost components, making it suitable for resource-limited settings. It has the potential to offer simple sample-to-answer molecular diagnostics and can inform healthcare workers of patients’ diagnosis promptly.