Glow sticks could go from being a uniquely American party favor to becoming part of the US Navy’s arsenal for detecting emerging biological threats.
Researchers at the University of Houston are developing diagnostic tests based on the glowing accessory to identify important viruses such as Covid-19, influenza and RSV, and the US Navy reportedly plans to place an order of tasks worth $1.3 million.
The vibrant light emitted by the glow sticks illuminates protein nanoparticles or toxins that could become a biological threat and works in about 15 minutes.
These tests could revolutionize the way biological threats are identified and treated, providing a cheaper alternative to other rapid tests, which cost just $2 per box.
Researchers found that glow sticks could help identify biological threats, including important viruses such as RSV, Covid-19 and influenza.
When a glow stick cracks, it releases hydrogen peroxide which reacts with chemicals stored outside the glass and illuminates biological targets.
“(Imagine) a young man, probably dressed in green camouflage, kicks in the door of a shed in rural Afghanistan or the United States and enters what appears to be a makeshift laboratory,” he told engineering professor Richard Willson. chemistry and biomolecular. Fox News.
“They would like to gather information about what’s going on there or protect themselves and their teammates from something that could be pretty bad,” and glow stick testing could identify potential dangers.
Dr. Binh Vu, an associate research professor at the University of Houston, said he discovered that glow sticks could be used to detect biological threats while bathing his two-year-old son.
His son was playing with a glow stick underwater and when he turned off the light, the “party favor” became very bright, and it was at that moment that he realized that glow sticks “could make a very good recorder.” for the diagnostic.
The researchers developed lateral flow tests that applied liquid glow reagent from a glow stick to a swab culture from an area.
The swab is placed in a cassette box before the reagent is applied and then the cassette is inserted into a 3D printed dark box.
Using an app on a camera or smartphone, researchers could use it to detect and receive results within 15 minutes.
The app analyzes the test that “literally glows” and performs calculations before returning a positive or negative result, explained Dr. Katerina Kourentzi.
Researchers Binh Vu (left), Richard Willson (center), and Katerina Kourentzi (right) developed a glow stick test to identify emerging biological threats.
“We are applying for the first time the stable, low-toxicity, low-cost chemistry of common glow sticks to develop rapid, bright diagnostic tests,” Willson said.
The inexpensive nature of the test, combined with its accessibility, attracted the US Navy, according to Kourentzi.
“The US Navy is looking for technology that can be deployed,” he said.
“So this seemed to be very applicable to their needs.”
Ultimately, the device could become a vital part of the Navy’s toolkit for combating biological threats, such as entering an area that could expose a military member to potential toxins.
According to Kourentzi, the team plans to ship prototypes to the US Navy in the coming months for early validation testing.
Researchers hope to expand the capabilities of glow sticks to include other important diseases, and the University of Houston has already received a grant to begin testing glow sticks for HIV detection.