Disposable Device Can Detect Dengue Antibodies in Saliva in 20 Minutes

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Professor Jackie Ying
Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
The Nanos, Singapore

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has developed a paper-based disposable device that will allow dengue-specific antibodies to be detected easily from saliva within 20 minutes.

Currently, dengue infection is diagnosed in the laboratory by testing the patient’s blood sample for the presence of dengue antigens or antibodies. IBN’s device, on the other hand, is capable of detecting IgG, a dengue-specific antibody found at the onset of secondary infections, directly from saliva in one step.

Credit: IBN, A*STAR

This is a 3-D model of IBN’s rapid test kit that detects dengue-specific antibodies.

Unlike blood samples, saliva can be collected easily and painlessly for rapid point-of-care diagnostics. However, unlike other body fluids, it cannot be applied directly to commercially available test kits as it would cause the sensor nanoparticles to stick haphazardly to the test strip. In addition, conventional paper-based tests are not designed to handle the larger sample volume of saliva required.

As described in the journal Lab on a Chip, the IBN researchers used an innovative stacking flow design to overcome key challenges faced by existing lateral flow devices, which are not designed to handle large volume of saliva samples.

In IBN’s device, different flow paths are created for samples and reagents through a multiple stacked system. This allows the saliva sample to flow separately through a fiber glass matrix, which removes the substances that would interfere with the nanoparticle-based sensing system before it mixes with the sensor nanoparticles. IBN’s device configuration also helps to regulate the flow in the test strip, generating uniform test lines for more accurate results.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response: According to Singapore’s National Environment Agency, dengue fever and its more severe form, dengue hemorrhagic fever, are the most common mosquito-borne viral diseases in the world. This disease poses a serious health threat, and is a leading cause of illness and death in tropical and subtropical climates. There are four known serotypes of the dengue virus, but no vaccine or medicine has been developed to treat the illness. The incubation period before symptoms develop generally ranges from 4 to 10 days after infection. Therefore, early diagnosis would enable the patient to receive prompt medical attention and avoid further complications.

IBN’s device is currently at the proof-of-concept stage. We are looking for partners to further validate the device for clinical applications.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: IBN’s oral test kit may be adapted to detect other infectious diseases. The IBN researchers are also investigating the use of other common fluid samples, such as blood, urine and serum for rapid, high-sensitivity test kits.


Yi Zhang, Jianhao Bai, Jackie Y. Ying. A stacking flow immunoassay for the detection of dengue-specific immunoglobulins in salivary fluid. Lab Chip, 2015; DOI: 10.1039/C4LC01127A

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MedicalResearch.com Interview with:, & Professor Jackie Ying (2015). Disposable Device Can Detect Dengue Antibodies in Saliva in 20 Minutes MedicalResearch.com