Researchers are working on new, faster ways to diagnosis bird flu and other dangerous influenza strains before they can erupt into a full-fledged pandemic.
Avian flu, or H5N1, does not spread easily to humans, but when it does the results are often deadly. The World Health Organization has reported 332 human cases of the disease since 2003 -- 204 of those patients died.
Early detection could help contain an outbreak, but current tests are expensive, can only be performed in special labs and can take about a week.
A team at the University of Michigan is working to shrink the laboratory full of equipment needed to test for various flu strains into a device the size of a television remote control.
The process converts the virus' genetic material, or RNA, into DNA and then uses special enzymes to cut the DNA, said Ronald Larson, the chemical engineering professor leading the project. Read full article »