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October 20, 2021

Viral Detective!

A team of NSF-funded researchers have developed a "viral detective" that uses DNA to not only detect if a virus is present, but if it is infectious. This new technique could also be applied to other viruses, by tweaking the DNA to target different pathogens. Learn more with NSF's "The Discovery Files."

Credit: National Science Foundation

Viral Detective!

Hi! I'm Mo Barrow with The Discovery Files, from NSF -- the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Ever hear of a DNA Detective? Well, that's what an NSF-funded team of researchers, led by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, have created.

The team tested a new DNA sensor on two viruses that cause infections worldwide: the human adenovirus, often linked to acute upper respiratory and gastrointestinal tract infections, and the virus that causes covid-19.

This viral detective uses DNA to not only detect if a virus is present but to determine if it is infectious as well.

This new sensing technique could also be applied to other viruses, tweaking the DNA fragments used to target different pathogens, microorganisms that cause disease.

The researchers are also hopeful that one day this new technology may allow for rapid and selective detection of current and emerging viral pathogens worldwide.

Viruses beware! There is a new detective on the scene.

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