Cygnus improves on LFTs to detect Dengue Fever

Biomedical engineering researchers have used a new diagnostic kit called Cygnus to detect Dengue Fever at significantly improved rates over lateral flow test kits.

dengue fever
Dengue virus in blood vessel containing red blood cells (Image: AdobeStock)

Working with academics and clinicians in Thailand, the Reading University team tested the tests alongside already established alternatives, and found that the new tests showed 82 percent clinical sensitivity, beating lateral flow tests (74 percent sensitivity) and matched hospital-based lab diagnostics. (83 percent sensitivity). These devices can take 10 measurements at a time, identifying the specific dengue virus that caused the infection. The team’s results are published in PLOS neglected tropical diseases

Lead author Dr. Sarah Needs, a postdoctoral research fellow in microfluidic antimicrobial resistance testing at Reading University, said: “The paper shows exciting potential for using the microfluidic ‘lab on a strip’ tests that can be used in conjunction with a smartphone and its more powerful than LFT testing in this case. The lab-on-a-strip technology is not only cheap to manufacture, but also allows users to test many different targets at once in a single sample, so it can be useful to detect multiple diseases, not just one.”


The new diagnostic test developed for the study uses ‘lab on a strip’ technology, which performs 10 or more tests using a very small amount of blood, urine or saliva.

The tests developed for the study were specifically designed to detect Dengue Fever, which affects an estimated 400 million people each year. While most cases are mild, dengue infections can lead to complications and be fatal. Dengue can be most severe in children and is a serious health challenge facing half of the world’s population.

dr. Alexander Edwards, an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Reading University and co-creator of the lab on a stripping technology, said: “Although some people only recently learned of the trade-offs between home [versus] Laboratory testing after Covid-19 rapid lateral flow tests are used in many parts of the world for a range of diseases, including dengue.

“With the Cygnus concept, we overcome the biggest hurdle for home testing. How do you make something portable that can be mass-produced cheaply and still meet the performance of lab tests? By designing the microfluidic lab on a strip using mass production melt extrusion, it is possible to scale up production and produce hundreds of thousands of tests. By capturing results with smartphones, which are becoming ubiquitous, we have designed something that could be revolutionary for healthcare.”

Abhishek Maheswari
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