Availability of a rapid, accurate, and reliable point-of-care (POC) device for detection of infectious agents and pandemic pathogens, such as swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus, is crucial for effective patient management and outbreak prevention. Due to its ease of use, rapid processing, and minimal power and laboratory equipment requirements, the lateral-flow (immuno)assay (LFA) has gained much attention in recent years as a possible solution. However, since the sensitivity of LFA has been shown to be inferior to that of the gold standards of pathogen detection, namely cell culture and real-time PCR, LFA remains an ineffective POC assay for preventing pandemic outbreaks. A practical solution for increasing the sensitivity of LFA is to concentrate the target agent in a solution prior to the detection step. In this study, an aqueous two-phase micellar system comprised of the nonionic surfactant Triton X-114 was investigated for concentrating a model virus, namely bacteriophage M13 (M13), prior to LFA. The volume ratio of the two coexisting micellar phases was manipulated to concentrate M13 in the top, micelle-poor phase. The concentration step effectively improved the M13 detection limit of the assay by tenfold from 5 × 108 plaque forming units (pfu)/mL to 5 × 107 pfu/mL. In the future, the volume ratio can be further manipulated to yield a greater concentration of a target virus and further decrease the detection limits of the LFA.
A schematic representation of concentrating viruses with an aqueous two-phase micellar system containing Triton X-114 surfactant prior to the detection of the virus through the lateral-flow immunoassay