New Electrochemical Sensor Detects Flu Viruses

SPAIN - An interdisciplinary study led by the National Research Council (CSIC) has described an electrochemical sensor able to quantify the potential infectivity of new strains of influenza viruses to a human or avian host.
calendar icon 5 March 2013
clock icon 3 minute read

The findings, published in the journal, Advanced Functional Materials, indicate that, due to its high selectivity, ease of use, size and cost, this device could be used as an analytical tool in monitoring programs conducted on a decentralized units of analysis or outpatient, according to CSIC.

The device described in this study is composed of a three-electrode cell as defined in one silicon substrate manufactured using microelectronics technology, for which CSIC has developed a biomimetic receptor selective. This receiver consists of a synthetic membrane that acts like the double lipid membrane of the target cells, so that the interaction varies depending on the natural virus.

"The response to the virus causes a change in the electrochemical impedance sensor that can be easily measured with simple instrumentation, which is robust and compact," said CSIC researcher, César Fernández-Sánchez of the Institute of Microelectronics of Barcelona.

"The ability of influenza virus to infect cells of human or avian species is based on the recognition of a receptor present on the surface of target cells - typically respiratory epithelial cells - consisting acid molecules linked sialic sugar galactose, which in turn are linked to various glycoproteins and glycolipids on the cell surface," explains the researcher of the National Institute of Agricultural Research and Technology, Gustavo del Real.

Unlike immunosensors using antibodies as receptors, biomimetic sensor architecture is capable of selectively interacting with different phenotypes of influenza virus as occurs in the lipid membrane of cells. With this device, the analysis of receptor specificity of influenza virus could be carried out much faster and cheaper than the commonly used methods, which require technical equipment and much more complex, explained CSIC researcher and project coordinator at the Institute of Materials Science of Madrid, Eduardo Ruíz-Hitzky.

"The electrochemical sensor application we report on the potential aggressiveness of a new emerging strain of influenza virus and, therefore, serve to more quickly implement the most appropriate prophylactic measures to prevent disease progression," concluded Dr del Real.

The study involved researchers from the CSIC belonging to the Materials Science Institute of Madrid, Barcelona Microelectronics Institute and the National Biotechnology Centre and the National Institute of Research and Technology for Agriculture and Food.


Wicklein B., M.Á. Martín del Burgo, M. Yuste, E. Carregal-Romero, A. Llobera, M. Darder, P. Aranda, J. Ortín, G. del Real, C. Fernández-Sánchez and E. Ruíz-Hitzky. Biomimetic architectures for the impedimetric discrimination of influenza virus phenotypes. Advanced Functional Materials. 23(2):254–262. January 14, 2013. DOI: 10.1002/adfm.201200377

Further Reading

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