US-based diagnostics firm Alere’s subsidiary Standard Diagnostics in the Republic of Korea and global nonprofit organisation FIND have introduced a new rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) or sleeping sickness.

The new SD BIOLINE HAT 2.0 is an immunochromatographic test designed to rapidly detect antibodies against the sleeping sickness-causing parasite, Trypanosoma brucei gambiense.

Health workers with minimal training can also perform the test by using fresh blood from a finger prick.

The test delivers results after only 15 minutes and does not require specialised equipment or electricity, enabling usage even in remote and resource-limited settings.

Research by the Universities of Dundee and Cambridge in the UK has contributed to the development of the test, which is intended to aid elimination of the disease in the communities of sub-Saharan African countries.

"The test delivers results after only 15 minutes and does not require specialised equipment or electricity."

The test includes two recombinant parasite antigens that were jointly developed by the universities.

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FIND CEO Dr Catharina Boehme said: “FIND’s role in supporting the development of the new HAT screening test has included the selection of candidate antigens, collection of clinical samples, and conducting clinical trials.

“Today, we are thrilled to announce the launch of this new test, which will facilitate diagnosis of sleeping sickness patients in even the most remote corners of affected countries, and enhance the prospects of achieving and sustaining elimination of the disease.”

FIND and Standard Diagnostics have previously partnered to develop another rapid HAT diagnostic test, SD BIOLINE HAT, which is currently available in approximately 17 endemic countries.

Image: SD BIOLINE HAT 2.0 kit. Photo: courtesy of the University of Dundee.