Singapore scientists develop chip that can identify 70,000 viruses

Dr Christopher Wong (left) and collaborator Martin Hibberd with the PathChip, which can identify a pathogen for $450 in the lab. -- PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SCIENTISTS here have developed a new wonder chip that can identify 70,000 different viruses and bacteria in one go.

Currently, a typical test can detect fewer than 50 pathogens, and each kit tends to be specific to certain groups.

"Usually, tests for infectious diseases are done one test at a time. Each test will cost between $20 and $200. If they are all negative, you will have spent all the money and still don't know what you've got," said Dr Christopher Wong, one of the scientists leading the project.

But with the credit card-sized PathChip, a pathogen can be identified for $450 in the laboratory and within 24 hours. This saves both money and the time it takes to diagnose a patient.