Scientists at Harvard University are working on what could be a new, cheap method of detecting ebola in patients, reports NewScientist.

The team of scientists including Wyss Institute postdoctoral fellow Alex Green, were able to successfully detect to strains of ebola on filter paper which changes colour if a certain virus is detected in DNA printed and frozen on it.

“We’re extending the concept of litmus paper to biochemical reactions, putting the power of molecular biology onto paper,” said  Jim Collins from the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard.

Developing this method of testing for ebola could be an important breakthrough in the fight against the virus as the process is very quick, taking only 30 minutes to reveal detected strains of ebola. It costs an estimated $21 (around R210), a tenth of the $244 you’ll currently have to shell out to conduct tests, and doesn’t require refrigeration, which is very useful in destitute areas with no electricity or problems with power failures.

“It’s a platform for a new class of diagnostics, and a very clear and important practical extension of synthetic biology, opening up a whole generation of new technologies for diagnosis,” Collins said.

Read the full story on the Wyss Institute website.

[Source – NewScientist, Image – Vimeo]