Olivia Hallisey a 16 year old from Greenwich, Connecticut spent one year developing a rapid, portable early diagnostic test for the Ebola virus. When she began researching diagnostic tests she discovered that many tests require electricity and refrigeration. Both are a luxury in many rural African Villages.
Current methods of Ebola testing also use ELISA detection kits which cost approximately $1,000 each. They also require proper instrumentation for testing, consistent refrigeration from manufacturer to the end user, trained medical professionals to administer, and up to 12 hours from testing to diagnosis.
The Ebola test developed by Hallisey is done on a four-channel card, with silk fibers, where reagents are applied to react with a patient’s Ebola antigens. The silk film keeps the reagents at room temperature, avoiding the need for refrigeration. They can also sit at room temperature for up to three weeks and still be effective.
The test can be done with a saliva sample. The cost a mere $25. Which makes it a reasonable option for health-care providers in developing nations in West Africa, where the disease is epidemic. The potentially life-saving invention, has huge ramifications for rural areas in many countries most profoundly infected by Ebola.
Hallisey believes that this testing method could also be used to diagnose other diseases including HIV, Lyme disease, Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever and certain cancers.
Olivia, won the grand prize at the Google Science Fair in September. In addition to receiving that honor, she was also given $50,000 in scholarship funds.