A new 15-minute Ebola test will be tested at the Ebola treatment centre in Conakry, Guinea, which is claimed to be six times faster than current tests in use.
Designed to accelerate the diagnosis of Ebola cases, the point-of-care test is one of six health research projects jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the UK Government.
The project is being supported by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and Wellcome Trust fund, while six projects are managed by Enhancing Learning & Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA).
An Ebola trial will be carried out by researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal. It will be deployed using a mobile suitcase laboratory designed for low-resource settings.
The laboratory includes a solar panel, power pack and a results reader, which is the size of a small laptop. Reagents used in the test are available as dried pellets.
The new test detects genetic material of the virus, similar to tests currently in use, while the pilot trial will test whether reagents are safe and effective to use with Ebola patients' blood and saliva samples.
Wellcome Trust international activities manager Dr Val Snewin said: "A reliable, 15-minute test that can confirm cases of Ebola would be a key tool for effective management of the Ebola outbreak, allowing patients to be identified, isolated and cared for as soon as possible.
"This pilot study is particularly promising because researchers have considered how to make the test suitable for use in remote field hospitals, where resources such as electricity and cold storage are often in short supply."
Funding for the projects will be provided through an existing £6.5m research initiative, Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC), which is jointly funded by DFID and the Wellcome Trust.
Five other funded projects include EbolaCheck, predicting the geographic spread of Ebola virus disease in West Africa, behaviour change to help infection prevention and control, modelling the Ebola epidemic in West Africa and the Ebola response anthropology platform.
Image: Ebola virus. Photo: courtesy of Public Health Image Library (PHIL), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA.