A UWM professor is developing a sensor that will be able to test for the Ebola virus in seconds with just your saliva. Dr. Junhong Chen, a mechanical engineering professor of 12 years at UWM, has received a nearly $100,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to develop this test.
This sensor uses the same concept that is used on diabetes test strips, along with a sensor platform he previously developed to test water for contaminants. It looks for proteins associated with the Ebola virus that can be found in human saliva. Compared to the current tests for the virus, this one is could be much faster, simpler and cheaper.
“This is about life and death, so any minutes or seconds you can save can save lives,” said Chen.
The cost effectiveness of this product is of special importance in the areas where Ebola is most present. This is why Dr. Chen is so adamant about the cost and simplicity of this. He hopes for this product to be able to be used by anyone, regardless of medical experience. He also has hopes for the test results to be able to be sent to a doctor wirelessly.
Dr. Chen is looking to have a completed prototype within the year. He hopes to sell it through his company, NanoAffix Science LLC.
Dr. Chen has been working on sensors for over 10 years and has a vision for the future of the technology. He sees sensors like these being used to detect any disease or virus and also sees the opportunity for household applications like testing food for allergens.
“Once you have the technology you want to find as many platforms as you can apply it to,” said Chen.