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Researchers Try To Develop Zika Detection, Understand Epidemiology

Researchers Try To Develop Zika Detection, Understand Epidemiology

​Undergraduate researchers in UT Austin's Freshman Research Initiative (FRI) join the effort to develop a readily available test for the newly spreading Zika virus. 

​The students in the DIY Diagnostics stream of the FRI are trying to develop a cell phone-based technology to effectively test for the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus in a low-cost way, with the hopes of eventually spreading the technology to the diverse areas recently afflicted with Zika, KEYE reports. [Update: Austin station KVUE also came out to report on the Freshman Research Initiative lab in conjunction with a new fundraising initiative tied to the project.] 

The new technology comes as part of a larger effort by UT researchers in the lab of Andy Ellington, a faculty member in the Department of Molecular Biosciences and the LaMontagne Center for Infectious Disease, who is working on a test for Zika and other infectious diseases. Yu Sherry Jiang, a chemistry graduate student in of the Ellington Lab, spoke to KXAN about the lab's efforts to try to develop cost-effective Zika detectors based on the DNA of the mosquitoes it tests. Coverage of the Ellington Lab and DIY Diagnostics stream can be found here:


Beyond the ability to detect the Zika virus, UT Austin professor of integrative biology Sahotra Sarkar wrote in the Conversation about the epidemiology of the virus, meaning how and why it might spread. Sarkar posited that the spread of the virus depends heavily on the types of mosquitoes which are good at transmitting it, and discusses possibilities of how to prevent it from spreading. Such a task is especially important since Zika could potentially spread to millions of people, which has public health officials worried, as Alexander Wild, an entomologist at UT Austin, told KVUE.

For more about the work related to the Zika virus, click on the links below:

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Tuesday, 21 November 2017

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