To confirm the detection, Yigit's team measures the amount light absorbed by the infected sample at a given wavelength - also known as absorbance spectroscopy.
"Our goal is to assemble a small kit that can be used for rapid disease screening," said Yigit.
"The current detection methods for Ebola, and other diseases, are costly, time-consuming and require sophisticated equipment. We are working to make real-time diagnosis a reality. This will narrow the population who need to be tested through conventional methods."
In total, 25 urine samples spiked with four Ebola-associated biomarkers were tested by Yigit's team. The technique provided accurate results in 24 samples, including each of the four subtypes of Ebola that infect humans. The researchers needed just one fifth of 1 milliliter of a sample to identify if it was infected.
"We are not biologists or classical biochemists. We are materials scientists developing methodologies for biomedical and environmental challenges by looking at them from a different angle," Yigit said. "Our approach can be implemented in any scenario where the associated biomarkers and their recognition elements are identified. It has a broad application spectrum."
Yigit's research is supported by internal funding from UAlbany start-up funds. He was also the recipient of the University's Presidential Initiatives Fund for Research and Scholarship, the SUNY Health Network of Excellence Award and the SUNY Network of Excellence Award in Materials and Advanced Manufacturing.
"The funding I've received from the University has enabled me to work independently and obtain everything I need for my research to be successful," Yigit said. "I am thankful to be surrounded by incredibly supportive faculty and hard-working student research assistants."