A Novel Dengue Virus Detection Method that Couples DNAzyme and Gold Nanoparticle Approaches

Tech ID: 13-047

Inventors: James R. Carter, Malcolm J. Fraser Jr.

Date Added: October 27, 2020


Improved detection and epidemiological surveillance method for Dengue Viruses

Technology Summary

13 047 Graphic

The global incidence of dengue virus has risen 30-fold in the past 30 years, with half the world’s population at risk. Early detection of the virus in mosquito populations and diagnosis in humans is critical for rapid recovery and epidemiological surveillance efforts. Current epidemiological surveillance detection methods involve the use of expensive lab equipment, which isn’t portable and involves extensive training. Current diagnostic methods are labor-intensive, expensive, and often yield inconclusive results. Both tests must be stored at specific temperatures which makes them incompatible for field conditions. There exists a need for a device that detects early manifestations of viral outbreak in a rapid, easy-to-use, portable, and robust manner.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have developed a detection method which utilizes a modified catalytic DNAzyme molecule tethered to gold particles (AuNPs). These mini devices serve as a powerful tool for rapid colorimetric detection of viruses. This method detects the presence or absence of target dengue virus (DENV) RNA in a sample through targeting and cleaving of DENV RNA by a DNAzymes coating the surface of these AuNPs. This targeting and cleavage event leads to aggregation of AuNP, resulting in a rapid red to clear color transition of samples; an indication of the presence of DENV. A negative mixture maintains the red color. In a matter of minutes this test can detect DENV with high sensitivity and accuracy. This method is rapid, low-cost, requires little training, and is compatible in field conditions in which these epidemics are most common.

Market Advantages 

  • Field applicable (no PCR or electricity required)
  • Fast test results (15 mins vs. 2-3 days)
  • Cost savings on COGS ($0.80 per sample vs. $2)
  • No specialized training necessary


  • Detection of Dengue Virus
  • Potential to detect other mosquito-borne illnesses in humans.
  • Potential to detect other mosquito-borne illnesses in mosquitoes.
  • Potential to detect other RNA viruses, such as Ebola and SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19.

Technology Readiness Level

TRL 3 – Experimental Proof of Concept

Intellectual Property Status

US 10,287,578


  • Carter JR, Balaraman V, Fraser TS, Kucharski CA, Fraser MJ Jr. (2013). “A novel Dengue Virus Detection Method that Couples DNAzyme and Gold Nanoparticle Approaches”. Virology Journal. June 28;10(1):201. PMID: 23809208
  • Carter JR, Fraser MJ Jr. (2013). “Striking Gold with Dengue Virus Detection”. LN Companion Series: Microbiology. Ed. P. Prime. September pg.11-13.


Richard Cox