Ebola is one of several known hemorrhagic fever viruses that causes an acute and serious illness in humans. It is highly contagious and without urgent treatment leads to damage of blood vessels, organ dysfunction, and death. Since an Ebola vaccine and antiviral therapy are still under developing, a rapid and simple point-of-care (POC) diagnostic test would be essential to control its spread by interrupting the transmission cycle. I developed an automated and multiplexed biosensor for Ebola virus filtering and detection. Combined with an optofluidic single-molecule sensing chip, a detection limit of 0.021 pfu/mL for clinical samples is achieved without target amplification. This detection limit is comparable with the limit for the real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technique, but expensive reagents or equipment are not needed. Our technique has a wide detection range covering the whole clinically relevant range from attomolar to picomolar levels. Recently, I developed a new protocol and a biosensor that directly detects attomolar-scale concentrations of Ebola RNA in whole blood. Exploiting a pneumatic multiplexing architecture, this biosensor can analyze 80 unique samples in parallel. This automated, multiplexed, and miniaturized biosensor establishes a key technology that enables next-generation POC detection systems. In the future, I aim to integrate scalable and functional metallic nanostructures into an automated biosensor to achieve a rapid, portable, low-cost, and sensitive POC system for detecting microorganisms and viruses. Once it is complete, it should be facile to diagnostic suspended patients in a POC environment.
Ke Du is a postdoctoral research fellow in chemistry/bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Du received the Ph.D. degree in mechanical engineering in 2014 from Stevens Institute of Technology. His research interests include scalable micro- and nanomanufacturing, nanomaterials, and biosensors. He has written ~30 peer-reviewed journal and conference articles with an overall impact factor ~120. Du has been the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Student Fellowship (2012), James H. Potter Award (2014), and Innovation & Entrepreneur (IE) Fellowship (2009–2014). He was the only recipient worldwide of the 2017 MDPI Biosensors Travel Award and one of only two recipients worldwide of the 2017 MDPI Micromachines Travel Award. Du also received the Travel Grants for The International Conferences on Electron, Ion, and Photon Beam Technology and Nanofabrication (EIPBN) from 2012 to 2014. Du served as a guest editor of the special issue “Scalable Micro/Nano Patterning” of Micromachines and as a technical program committee member of the EIPBN Conference (2012–2014). Recently, Du was awarded a research grant of $48,670 by CRRC to develop scalable quasi-3D metallic nanostructures.