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Scientists Discover Methods to Detect Diseases in 60 Seconds

Technique uses Raman spectrometers developed with the help of standards

New York, Jan 08, 2009

With the prevalence of cross-country and international travel, diseases and epidemics can be spread across the globe before they’re even identified. A new technique of detecting viruses, developed with the help of standards, can identify diseases in less than 60 seconds. This will allow doctors and health professionals to confirm diagnoses and isolate those infected before the disease can spread.

The new technique, created by scientists at the University of Georgia, employs surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy to measure the frequency of near-infrared laser light as it scatters off viral DNA and RNA. Using a sample swab from a person’s nostrils, the technique can detect individual virus particles quickly, and even identify many types of viruses by their unique spectral “fingerprints.” The entire process takes a mere 30 to 60 seconds.

Several standards developed by ASTM International, a member and audited designator of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), provide guidelines the testing and assessment of Raman spectrometers, helping to ensure accuracy and a high level of performance.

ASTM E1683-02(2007), Standard Practice for Testing the Performance of Scanning Raman Spectrometers, identifies standard practices for testing and evaluating Raman spectrometer performance. The document also assists users in locating problems when performance has degraded. It is intended as a guide for obtaining and reporting Raman spectra, such as the data used to identify viruses in this new technology.

Another ASTM standard, ASTM E2529-06, Standard Guide for Testing the Resolution of a Raman Spectrometer, helps researchers to test and assess the spectral resolution of their equipment.

Because of the safety concerns associated with the use of lasers, both ASTM standards recommend that users also follow the guidelines set forth in ANSI Z136.1-2007, American National Standard for Safe Use of Lasers. Developed by ANSI member the Laser Institute of America, this standard is the foundation of laser safety programs for industrial, military, medical, and educational applications nationwide.

Through accurate testing, optimized performance, and safe use, Raman spectrometers produce the information needed to identify a virus in just one minute. Future use of the technology could include a laptop-sized testing station for screening that’s quick, portable, and reliable.

For more information and to watch a related video, click here.

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