Researchers at Northumbria University in the UK have developed a new and rapid point-of-care diagnostic test, EbolaCheck, for the detection of Ebola virus.
Led by Dr Sterghios Moschos, the research is intended to aid in early identification and treatment of Ebola-like symptoms to minimise the spread of the disease.
Suitable for deployment at the scene of an outbreak, the test can be used to test a blood sample that is 700 times smaller than the specimen previously required, and delivers results within 70 minutes.
Based on a technology developed by US-based BioGene, the research has been funded through a grant from Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) Programme.
BioGene’s portfolio includes products, services and support for various categories such as molecular biology, nucleic acid purification, target amplification, and post-amplification analyses.
As the new technology can detect and measure genes and genomes, it is expected to be useful for diagnosis of other viruses such as the Zika, MERS, SARS, flu, and dengue.
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The diagnostic platform can also be used for bacterial and parasitic infections such as meningitis and malaria.
Dr Moschos said: “The development of this pioneering technology could essentially save lives and reduce the spread of the disease, which is crucial in a humanitarian crisis.
“Due to there being no further cases since it was developed, to date, it has not been possible to take the test out of the lab and into the field where the patient needs it.
“However, it can be deployed anywhere – the frontline in Africa where this disease is found, as well as international airports and ports – to help stop the disease from spreading and to prevent disruption of international trade and travel.”