U.S. and Russian researchers have developed a new biochip technology aimed at heading off a worldwide outbreak of tuberculosis.
Thousands of prisoners in Russian jails are currently infected with the disease, which has made an alarming comeback in the United States. Because it can take weeks or months to identify specific strains of tuberculosis – many of which are drug-resistant – patients often die before the correct strain is identified.
The bioarray-type biochip technology, co-designed at the Argonne National Lab in Argonne, Ill. and the Engelhardt Institute of Molecular Biology in Moscow, can enable researchers to identify and eradicate drug-resistant strains of the disease by pairing up samples of single-strand tuberculosis DNA with DNA strands of TB strains whose drug resistance is known.
Both organizations are collaborating with Packard Instruments and Motorola to develop mass-produced biochips, which researchers say can be adapted to make similar evaluations of other bacterial and viral diseases.
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