UA researchers use smartphone to detect norovirus

TUCSON- A team of researchers at the University of Arizona is using a smartphone to detect norovirus, a contagious virus causing food poisoning, stomach flu or the stomach bug.

Norovirus can lead to vomiting and diarrhea and is commonly spread in crowded environments like workplaces or cruise ships.

A team of UA researchers created a device for about $100 to attach to a smartphone in order to detect the virus.

“Advances in rapid monitoring of human viruses in water are essential for protecting public health,” said Kelly Reynolds, Chair of the Department of Community, Environment and Policy. “This rapid, low-cost water quality monitoring technology could be a transformational tool for reducing both local and global disease burdens.”

Doctor Soo Chung said that their device counts fluorescent beads and if the virus is present than several antibodies will attach to each virus particle, creating a little clump of the beads.

In order to test a sample, Dr. Soo Chung slides a paper microfluidic chip with potentially contaminated water on it, into the device and zooms in with the microscope. Then their app on the phone analyzes the particles and is able to detect low levels of norovirus in the water.

“Evaluation time is less than a minute,”said Dr. Soo Chung.

In the future, he hopes to expand his smartphone monitoring system to detect other hazards and cancer-causing chemicals.


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