New Test Can Detect Lyme Disease in 15 Minutes
Biomedical engineers have developed a new, rapid test capable of detecting Lyme disease in just 15 minutes.
Current testing for Lyme disease requires two complex tests required to detect antibodies responding to the bacterium and requires experienced personnel in the lab working over the course of several hours. The new test is capable of detecting Lyme disease antibodies between 97.5 and 100 percent of the time.
"Our findings are the first to demonstrate that Lyme disease diagnosis can be carried out in a microfluidic format that can provide rapid quantitative results," said study lead Sam Sia. "This means that our test could easily be used directly in a doctor's office, obviating having to send the samples out to a laboratory that needs at least a couple of hours, if not days, to get test results."
Zoomed photo of fluid moving through a small channel in the microfluidic chip. Columbia Engineering
Writing in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology, researchers report that they found a combination of three proteins that worked to identify antibodies that are specific to bacterium responsible for the transmission of Lyme disease. Researchers evaluated 142 samples from patients with Lyme disease, healthy individuals from areas where Lyme disease is endemic, and those who have arthritis from Lyme disease by first screening a set of known biomarkers and their ability to detect Lyme disease, which were then tested using a standard enzyme immunoassay and an advanced technology developed by Sia.
When tested against people with Lyme disease, the new methodology was more sensitive than previous diagnostic capabilities and was better at detecting signs of the disease in its early stages.
"While the assay will require more refinement and testing before it can be approved for widespread use as a test for Lyme disease, our results are very exciting," said one of the study's lead authors, Siddarth Arumugam. "It will help so many people if we can develop a single, rapid, multiplexed diagnostic test to identify Lyme disease stage that can be used in doctors' offices."
An estimated 300,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year. Lyme disease is transmitted by the bite of infected blacklegged ticks carrying the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. In all, the Mayo Clinic notes there are four bacteria capable of transmitting the disease around the world and is more likely to infect people who live in "grassy and heavily wooded areas where ticks carrying Lyme disease thrive."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and a skin rash known as Erythema migrans, or the tell-tale large bullseye surrounding the bite. If left untreated, the CDC notes that infection can "spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system."
Though the new test is promising, the CDC currently only recommends the two-tiered system, reports the Philly Voice.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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