From an article at phys.org by Erika Ebsworth-Goold:
Many diagnostic tests use antibodies to help confirm a myriad of medical conditions, from Zika infections to heart ailments and even some forms of cancer. Antibodies capture and help detect proteins, enzymes, bacteria and viruses present in injuries and illnesses, and must be kept at a constant low temperature to ensure their viability—often requiring refrigeration powered by electricity. This can make diagnostic testing in underdeveloped countries, disaster or remote areas and even war zones extremely expensive and difficult.
A team of engineers from Washington University in St. Louis and Air Force Research Laboratory have discovered an inexpensive work-around: a protective coating that could completely eliminate the need for cold storage and change the scope of medical diagnostic testing in places where it’s often needed the most.
“In many developing countries, electricity is not guaranteed,” said Srikanth Singamaneni, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science in Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis.
“So how do we best get them medical diagnostics? We did not know how to solve this problem previously.”
Singamaneni’s team previously used tiny gold nanorods in bio-diagnostic research, measuring changes in their optical properties to quantify protein concentrations in bio-fluids: the higher a concentration, the higher the likelihood of injury or disease.