A 16-year-old Connecticut girl has won this year’s Google Science Fair by creating a revolutionary new test to detect Ebola.
Compare that to current Ebola tests which cost about $1,000 each, require trained medical personnel using complex equipment to administer them, and take 12 hours to conclude a diagnosis. Current kits need to be stored in refrigerators, which may not be available in rural Africa or Asia.
What makes her test kit unique is that it can be left at room temperature for up to three weeks and still work. She found a way to stabilize the chemicals by attaching silk thread to card stock that eliminates the need for refrigeration.
The test card is cross-shaped with a circle at the center. The three chemicals used to detect Ebola are added to three ends of the cross, and a drop of blood serum for the patient being tested is added to the end of the fourth arm.
The person conducting the test puts drops of water on the end of each arm, washing chemicals and serum to the center. The paper changes color to show positive or negative results (shown in the time lapse video below).
Hallisey says her test can be modified to detect Dengue fever, HIV, Lyme disease, and some cancers.
She won the top prize in a field of 22 other finalists, to take home a $50,000 scholarship from Google — and a cool, Lego-inspired trophy.