GreeneChip offers rapid diagnosis of 30,000 pathogens

Published 7 December 2006

Unlike systems that can only test blood samples, new technology can assay tissue, urine, and stool; from Marburg to urinary tract infections, Columbia University’s GreeneChip offers a fast and inexpensive testing regime

Tests that can rapidly diagnose infections are atop the Christmas list of emergency and public health planners this year. We have reported on a number of these devices, some of which rely on sensor technology, others that are contained within pen-like devices for use in the field. These, however, have typically been limited to testing blood samples.

The new GreeneChip, named after the Greene Infectious Disease Laboratory at Columbia University where it was developed, outdoes them all by being the first that can rapidly assay tissue, urine, and stool samples. Viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites can all be detected with the GreeneChrip System. “Because clinical syndromes are rarely specific for single pathogens, methods that simultaneously screen for multiple agents are important, particularly when early accurate diagnosis can alter treatment or assist in containment of an outbreak,” said Dr. Ian Lipkin.

The GreeneChip relies on a comprehensive microbial sequence database that integrates DNA and RNA correlates for each of 30,000 pathogens. “When human fluid and tissue samples are applied to the chip, these probes will stick to any closely related genetic material in the samples,” the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which helped develop the chip, said in a statement. The chip’s performance was tested by exposing it to samples of everything from hemorrhagic ferver to urinary tract infections. In all cases, researchers reported diagnoses consistent with more old-fashioned culture and plymerase chain reaction methods.

The research was supported by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (one of the National Institutes of Health) and the Ellison Foundation.

-read more in this university news release