Research Highlight

Sensor for detecting hepatitis B virus

doi:10.1038/nindia.2016.94 Published online 22 July 2016

By using zeolite nanocrystals and multiwalled carbon nanotubes, researchers have synthesized a nanocomposite that can detect minute traces of DNA of the hepatitis B virus, making it potentially useful for diagnosing hepatitis B infection in patients1.

A deadly infectious disease caused by a virus, hepatitis B claims numerous lives every year. Current techniques for detecting this virus are complex and expensive.

To devise a simple and cost-effective method for detecting hepatitis B virus, the researchers synthesized a sensor by depositing a nanocomposite of zeolite nanocrystals and multiwalled carbon nanotubes onto a substrate. In addition, they attached a DNA probe to the sensor, which can selectively bind to DNA of the hepatitis B virus.

The efficiency of the sensor was assessed by exposing it to six different clinical samples containing DNA of the hepatitis B virus. The sensor bound to between 150 and 1 million copies of target viral DNA in the clinical samples.

In a clinical sample, the sensor could bind to as low as 50 copies of target viral DNA per milliliter, indicating its efficiency to detect the hepatitis B virus. The sensor lost 1% of its original sensing efficiency after a week and 50% after 4 weeks.

“With a 99% accuracy in detecting viral DNA, this sensor will eliminate the need for complex tests that employ amplification of viral DNA, speeding up the diagnosis of hepatitis B,” says Jagriti Narang, one of the researchers.


1. Narang, J. et al. Impedimetric genosensor for ultratrace detection of hepatitis B virus DNA in patient samples assisted by zeolites and MWCNT nanocomposites. Biosens. Bioelectron. (2016) doi: 10.1016/j.bios.2016.07.013