US-based Luminex has collaborated with the University of São Paulo in Brazil to validate a multi-analyte Zika virus assay, developed by GenArraytion.

The MultiFLEX Mosquito-borne Panel, a qualitative nucleic acid assay, is currently available as a research use only (RUO) multiplex panel designed to identify several disease agents such as the Zika virus.

Luminex is an exclusive distributor of GenArraytion’s MultiFLEX Bioassays.

The panel uses the Luminex 100/200 or MAGPIX instrument to simultaneously test for an array of the most common mosquito-borne disease agents.

Luminex is providing a MAGPIX fluorescent detection system, and partnering with GenArraytion to deliver test kits for the university to validate the assay with clinical samples.

Luminex president and CEO Nachum Shamir said: "We believe this collaboration will help ensure our innovative multi-target mosquito-borne panel is ready to aid researchers in rapidly identifying clinical samples from people who may be infected with the Zika virus, or other mosquito-borne diseases.

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"All of my Luminex colleagues across the globe share a concern for those affected by the rise in mosquito-borne disease.

"In addition, we will begin shipping this unique, first-to-market MultiFLEX Mosquito-borne Panel to health care researchers in areas of greatest immediate need in South America, Central America and the Caribbean."

"The multiplex molecular panel will greatly aid our survey efforts to identify not only Zika virus but also concurrent epidemics we are now experiencing in Brazil such as Chikingunya."

The Zika virus is transmitted mainly by daytime-active Aedes mosquitoes such as A. aegypti.

In January, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported that Zika virus could infect as many as three million to four million people in the Americas.

The virus is mainly linked to severe birth defects in thousands of babies in Brazil and has dramatically increased.

Initially, Brazil reported its first case of Zika virus disease in May last year and since then, the disease has spread within the country and to 22 other countries and territories in the region.

University of São Paulo Biomedical Sciences Institute department of microbiology, laboratory of molecular evolution and bioinformatics professor Paolo Zanotto said: "The multiplex molecular panel will greatly aid our survey efforts to identify not only Zika virus but also concurrent epidemics we are now experiencing in Brazil such as Chikingunya.

"The MAGPIX platform also has the flexibility to develop and perform Zika-specific serological assays to survey exposed population and establish case-controlled cohorts of pregnant women."

Image: Aedes aegypti, a mosquito vector of Zika virus. Photo: courtesy of Rafaelgilo.