Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Assay


A novel enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay based on magnetic nanoparticles and biotin/streptavidin-HRP (MNP-bsELISA) was developed for rapid and sensitive detection of zearalenone (ZEN). The detection signal was enhanced and the sensitivity of the assay was improved by combined use of antibody-conjugated magnetic nanoparticles and biotin-streptavidin system. Under the optimized conditions, the regression equation for quantification of ZEN was y = -0.4287x + 0.3132 (R² = 0.9904). The working range was 0.07-2.41 ng/mL. The detection limit was 0.04 ng/mL and IC50 was 0.37 ng/mL. The recovery rates of intra-assay and inter-assay ranged from 92.8%-111.9% and 91.7%-114.5%, respectively, in spiked corn samples. Coefficients of variation were less than 10% in both cases. Parallel analysis of cereal and feed samples showed good correlation between MNP-bsELISA and liquid chromatograph-tandem mass spectrometry (R² = 0.9283). We conclude that this method is suitable for rapid detection of zearalenone in cereal and feed samples in relevant laboratories.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Nanotechnology, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Immunoassay, Magnetic nanoparticles, Magnetic immunoassay


Thus far, validated whole blood assays used in in vitro fibrinolysis experiments using thromboelastometry (ROTEM) are lacking or have yet to be tested in humans. The objective was first, to establish a standardized modified ROTEM approach to detect both hypo- and hyperfibrinolysis. And second, to perform a technical and clinical validation of the assay.

Concepts: Coagulation, Fibrinolysis, Assay, Standard, Fibrinolytic system, Thromboelastometry


Clinical signs and symptoms of different airway pathogens are generally indistinguishable, making laboratory tests essential for clinical decisions regarding isolation and antiviral therapy. Immunochromatographic tests (ICT) and direct immunofluorescence assays (DFA) have lower sensitivities and specificities than molecular assays, but have the advantage of quick turnaround times and ease-of-use.

Concepts: Virus, Chemistry, Symptom, Antiviral drug, Influenza, Assay, Medical sign, Human respiratory syncytial virus


Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is endemic in Central America and northern regions of South America, where sporadic outbreaks in cattle and pigs can cause clinical signs that are similar to foot-and-mouth disease (FMD). There is therefore a pressing need for rapid, sensitive and specific differential diagnostic assays that are suitable for decision making in the field. RT-LAMP assays have been developed for vesicular diseases such as FMD and swine vesicular disease (SVD) but there is currently no RT-LAMP assay that can detect VS virus (VSV), nor are there any multiplex RT-LAMP assays which permit rapid discrimination between these ‘look-a-like’ diseases in situ. This study describes the development of a novel RT-LAMP assay for the detection of VSV focusing on the New Jersey (VSNJ) serotype, which has caused most of the recent VS cases in the Americas. This RT-LAMP assay was combined in a multiplex format combining molecular lateral-flow devices for the discrimination between FMD and VS. This assay was able to detect representative VSNJV and the limit of detection of the singleplex and multiplex VSNJV RT-LAMP assays were equivalent to laboratory based real-time RT-PCR assays. A similar multiplex RT-LAMP assay was developed to discriminate between FMDV and SVDV, showing that FMDV, SVDV and VSNJV could be reliably detected within epithelial suspensions without the need for prior RNA extraction, providing an approach that could be used as the basis for a rapid and low cost assay for differentiation of FMD from other vesicular diseases in the field.

Concepts: Assay, Aphthovirus, Foot-and-mouth disease, Laboratory techniques, South America, Animal virology, Americas, Swine vesicular disease


Aflatoxin, a mycotoxin found commonly in maize and peanuts worldwide, is associated with liver cancer, acute toxicosis, and growth impairment in humans and animals. In Tanzania, sunflower seeds are a source of snacks, cooking oil, and animal feed. These seeds are a potential source of aflatoxin contamination. However, reports on aflatoxin contamination in sunflower seeds and cakes are scarce. The objective of the current study was to determine total aflatoxin concentrations in sunflower seeds and cakes from small-scale oil processors across Tanzania. Samples of sunflower seeds (n = 90) and cakes (n = 92) were collected across two years, and analyzed for total aflatoxin concentrations using a direct competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). For seed samples collected June-August 2014, the highest aflatoxin concentrations were from Dodoma (1.7-280.6 ng/g), Singida (1.4-261.8 ng/g), and Babati-Manyara (1.8-162.0 ng/g). The highest concentrations for cakes were from Mbeya (2.8-97.7 ng/g), Dodoma (1.9-88.2 ng/g), and Singida (2.0-34.3 ng/g). For seed samples collected August-October 2015, the highest concentrations were from Morogoro (2.8-662.7 ng/g), Singida (1.6-217.6 ng/g) and Mbeya (1.4-174.2 ng/g). The highest concentrations for cakes were from Morogoro (2.7-536.0 ng/g), Dodoma (1.4-598.4 ng/g) and Singida (3.2-52.8 ng/g). In summary, humans and animals are potentially at high risk of exposure to aflatoxins through sunflower seeds and cakes from micro-scale millers in Tanzania; and location influences risk.

Concepts: Aflatoxin, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Eva Engvall, Peanut, Tanzania, Sunflower


Background The West African outbreak of Ebola virus disease has caused more than 8500 deaths. A vaccine could contribute to outbreak control in the region. We assessed a monovalent formulation of a chimpanzee adenovirus 3 (ChAd3)-vectored vaccine encoding the surface glycoprotein of Zaire ebolavirus (EBOV), matched to the outbreak strain. Methods After expedited regulatory and ethics approvals, 60 healthy adult volunteers in Oxford, United Kingdom, received a single dose of the ChAd3 vaccine at one of three dose levels: 1×10(10) viral particles, 2.5×10(10) viral particles, and 5×10(10) viral particles (with 20 participants per group). Safety was assessed over the next 4 weeks. Antibodies were measured on enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and T-cell responses on enzyme-linked immunospot (ELISpot) and flow-cytometry assays. Results No safety concerns were identified at any of the dose levels studied. Fever developed in 2 of the 59 participants who were evaluated. Prolonged activated partial-thromboplastin times and transient hyperbilirubinemia were observed in 4 and 8 participants, respectively. Geometric mean antibody responses on ELISA were highest (469 units; range, 58 to 4051; 68% response rate) at 4 weeks in the high-dose group, which had a 100% response rate for T cells on ELISpot, peaking at day 14 (median, 693 spot-forming cells per million peripheral-blood mononuclear cells). Flow cytometry revealed more CD4+ than CD8+ T-cell responses. At the vaccine doses tested, both antibody and T-cell responses were detected but at levels lower than those induced in macaques protected by the same vaccine. Conclusions The ChAd3 monovalent vaccine against EBOV was immunogenic at the doses tested. (Funded by the Wellcome Trust and others; number, NCT02240875 .).

Concepts: Antibody, Microbiology, Immunology, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Eva Engvall, Ebola


Background To estimate the frequency and duration of detectable Zika virus (ZIKV) RNA in human body fluids, we prospectively assessed a cohort of newly infected participants in Puerto Rico. Methods We evaluated samples obtained from 150 participants (including 55 men) in whom ZIKV RNA was detected on reverse-transcriptase-polymerase-chain-reaction (RT-PCR) assay in urine or blood in an enhanced arboviral clinical surveillance site. We collected serum, urine, saliva, semen, and vaginal secretions weekly for the first month and then at 2, 4, and 6 months. All specimens were tested by means of RT-PCR, and serum was tested with the use of anti-ZIKV IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Among the participants with ZIKV RNA in any specimen at week 4, biweekly collection continued until all specimens tested negative. We used parametric Weibull regression models to estimate the time until the loss of ZIKV RNA detection in each body fluid and reported the findings in medians and 95th percentiles. Results The medians and 95th percentiles for the time until the loss of ZIKV RNA detection were 14 days (95% confidence interval [CI], 11 to 17) and 54 days (95% CI, 43 to 64), respectively, in serum; 8 days (95% CI, 6 to 10) and 39 days (95% CI, 31 to 47) in urine; and 34 days (95% CI, 28 to 41) and 81 days (95% CI, 64 to 98) in semen. Few participants had detectable ZIKV RNA in saliva or vaginal secretions. Conclusions The prolonged time until ZIKV RNA clearance in serum in this study may have implications for the diagnosis and prevention of ZIKV infection. Current sexual-prevention guidelines recommend that men use condoms or abstain from sex for 6 months after ZIKV exposure; in 95% of the men in this study, ZIKV RNA was cleared from semen after about 3 months. (Funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.).

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Eva Engvall, Immunoassay, Multiplex, Body fluids


Zika virus (ZIKV) is implicated in fetal stillbirth, microcephaly, intracranial calcifications, and ocular anomalies following vertical transmission from infected mothers. In adults, infection may trigger autoimmune inflammatory polyneuropathy. Transmission most commonly follows the bite of infectedAedesmosquitoes but may also occur through sexual intercourse or receipt of blood products. Definitive diagnosis through detection of viral RNA is possible in serum or plasma within 10 days of disease onset, in whole blood within 3 weeks of onset, and in semen for up to 3 months. Serological diagnosis is nonetheless critical because few patients have access to molecular diagnostics during the acute phase of infection and infection may be associated with only mild or inapparent disease that does not prompt molecular testing. Serological diagnosis is confounded by cross-reactivity of immune sera with other flaviviruses endemic in the areas where ZIKV has recently emerged. Accordingly, we built a high-density microarray comprising nonredundant 12-mer peptides that tile, with one-residue overlap, the proteomes of Zika, dengue, yellow fever, West Nile, Ilheus, Oropouche, and chikungunya viruses. Serological analysis enabled discovery of a ZIKV NS2B 20-residue peptide that had high sensitivity (96.0%) and specificity (95.9%) versus natural infection with or vaccination against dengue, chikungunya, yellow fever, West Nile, tick-borne encephalitis, or Japanese encephalitis virus in a microarray assay and an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) of early-convalescent-phase sera (2 to 3 weeks after onset of symptomatic infection).IMPORTANCEThe emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) as a teratogen is a profound challenge to global public health. Molecular diagnosis of infection is straightforward during the 3-week period when patients are viremic. However, serological diagnosis thereafter of historical exposure has been confounded by cross-reactivity. Using high-density peptide arrays that tile the proteomes of a selection of flaviviruses to identify a ZIKV-specific peptide, we established two assays that enable sensitive and specific diagnosis of exposure to ZIKV. These assays may be useful in guiding clinical management of mothers at risk for potential exposure to ZIKV and enable insights into the epidemiology of ZIKV infections.

Concepts: Antibody, Infection, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, Viral diseases, Flaviviridae, Flaviviruses


This work demonstrates that a full laboratory-quality immunoassay can be run on a smartphone accessory. This low-cost dongle replicates all mechanical, optical, and electronic functions of a laboratory-based enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) without requiring any stored energy; all necessary power is drawn from a smartphone. Rwandan health care workers used the dongle to test whole blood obtained via fingerprick from 96 patients enrolling into care at prevention of mother-to-child transmission clinics or voluntary counseling and testing centers. The dongle performed a triplexed immunoassay not currently available in a single test format: HIV antibody, treponemal-specific antibody for syphilis, and nontreponemal antibody for active syphilis infection. In a blinded experiment, health care workers obtained diagnostic results in 15 min from our triplex test that rivaled the gold standard of laboratory-based HIV ELISA and rapid plasma reagin (a screening test for syphilis), with sensitivity of 92 to 100% and specificity of 79 to 100%, consistent with needs of current clinical algorithms. Patient preference for the dongle was 97% compared to laboratory-based tests, with most pointing to the convenience of obtaining quick results with a single fingerprick. This work suggests that coupling microfluidics with recent advances in consumer electronics can make certain laboratory-based diagnostics accessible to almost any population with access to smartphones.

Concepts: Antibody, Infectious disease, Type I and type II errors, ELISA, ELISPOT, Assay, HIV test, Immunoassay


Molecular assays have not yet been able to replace time-consuming culture-based methods in clinical mycobacteriology. Using 6875 clinical samples and a study period of 35months we evaluated the use of PCR-based assays to establish a diagnostic workflow with a fast time-to-result of 1-2days, for 1. detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTB), 2. detection and identification of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM), and 3. identification of drug susceptible MTB. MTB molecular-based detection and culture gave concordant results for 97.7% of the specimens. NTM PCR-based detection and culture gave concordant results for 97.0% of the specimens. Defining specimens on the basis of combined laboratory data as true positives or negatives with discrepant results resolved by clinical chart reviews, we calculated sensitivity, specificity, PPV and NPV for PCR-based MTB detection as 84.7%, 100%, 100%, and 98.7%; the corresponding values for culture-based MTB detection were 86.3%, 100%, 100%, and 98.8%. PCR-based detection of NTM had a sensitivity of 84.7% compared to 78.0% of that of culture-based NTM detection. Molecular drug susceptibility testing (DST) by line-probe assay was found to predict phenotypic DST results in MTB with excellent accuracy. Our findings suggest a diagnostic algorithm to largely replace lengthy culture-based techniques by rapid molecular-based methods.

Concepts: Type I and type II errors, Sensitivity and specificity, Tuberculosis, Assay, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium avium complex, Nontuberculous mycobacteria