Hersh Nanda

Hersh Nanda, BASIS Chandler/ASU Science Program (High School Student)

An innovative polydimethylsiloxane microfluidic biosensing platform for rapid detection of viruses

The objective of this research project was to develop an innovative procedure for the fabrication of a versatile PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane) microfluidic device that is capable of detecting viruses and small molecules. The detection of these analytes is accomplished by integrating a gold biosensor with the PDMS microfluidic device and using a process called surface detection - a process wherein the gold biosensor allows glycoproteins (secreted by viruses) and small molecules to bond to it. The detection of the small molecules is directly observable while the detection of a virus is by inference by examining the glycoprotein(s) that are associated with the virus. This device falls in the category of lab-on-a-chip (LOC) devices that integrate one or several laboratory functions on a single highly miniaturized device.

The three main steps in the design procedure were: fabrication of gold biosensor, development of PDMS mold (or, PDMS mold making), and device validation (through a process called sensing).

After the device was produced, tests were run using LabSpec software to validate the biosensor capability and sensitivity in detecting viruses such as Ebola virus (through prior empirical data) and small molecules such as cannabidiol (CBD). This device, by virtue of its design, is capable of detecting any virus as long as the virus secretes a glycoprotein, and there is a molecule that is able to bond that glycoprotein to the biosensor. Therefore, this device is potentially capable of detecting influenza virus, SARS-CoV, hepatitis C virus, and even the novel COVID-19.

This device has broad application in biomedicine and offers a several benefits which include but are not limited to versatility in detection of diverse analytes (including new viruses), ability to detect analytes with small sample size, increased efficiency (less time to fabricate the device and quickly scale production to large volumes), lower production cost, device portability in the field, and ease of use for healthcare professionals.

The conclusions from this project are also applicable to the current COVID-19 pandemic, in which countries are dealing with shortages in testing kits for diagnosis. This project demonstrates that there is a less expensive and more efficient method for rapidly diagnosing infectious diseases, which can significantly enhance the ability of countries to rapidly detect and isolate infected people during pandemics and save human lives.

Note: This project was conducted through the ASU-SCENE program under the supervision and guidance of Assistant Professor Dr. Chao Wang, and a PhD student, MD Ashif Ikbal at the Nanoscience and Biotechnology labs at Arizona State University.