Biochemists have developed a new tool, the Flu Chip, that can identify a strain of influenza in as little as 7 hours. Current flu-tools take as long as days to weeks. The Flu Chip is a DNA microarray made up of human DNA. A sample from the infected individual's throat or nose is deposited on the DNA microarray. The RNA from the flu strain binds to the human DNA and can be highlighted using a fluorescent solution. A computer can then determine the human or avian flu strain. The CDC has found the tool to be 90% accurate.
Researchers hope that the tool helps epidemiologists better identify the "what, when, and where" of influenza. Researchers at the University of Colorado hope to reduce the amount of time needed to use the Flu Chip. The goal is to reduce the time to one hour.
The Flu Chip can be a useful tool because it provides genetic information useful for identifying strains and it can easily be used to test for other RNA viruses.