A coin-sized device to detect measles virus in saliva

A lab-on-a-chip device, which is smaller than a €1-cent coin or a U.S. quarter.


Measles is an acute viral respiratory illness. It is one of the most infectious airborne viruses worldwide. Measles is common in developing countries, and sporadic outbreaks occur in developed countries, primarily due to non-vaccinated people.

New research introduced a lab-on-a-chip device, smaller than a €1-cent coin or a U.S. quarter- to detect measles virions in human saliva. According to scientists, the device may help with efforts to control viral spread. Plus, it could be a convenient platform for measles diagnosis and serve as a guideline for designing new microfluidic biosensing systems.

Senior author Marco Cecchini, Ph.D., Senior Researcher of the Nanoscience Institute of the Italian National Research Council and CTO, said“Our technology, for the first time, demonstrated the synergic operation of different surface-acoustic-wave-based micro devices on the same chip, in the context of lab-on-a-chip biosensing. In this way, we have drastically improved our sensors’ detection limit, potentially enabling early point-of-care diagnostic applications.”

The study is published in Advanced Functional Materials.

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