Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Rapid diagnostics for H5N1 in humans - at a lower price

From Medical News Today: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/83386.php.

"Scientists in Singapore say they have invented a quick and cheap bird flu test in a hand held kit that can detect the deadly H5N1 virus in under 30 minutes."

Scientists from Singapore's Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology have been developing an easily deployed, rapid diagnostic test for H5N1 for the past year. Health experts believe that a diagnostic tool such as this may be the key to identifying clusters of H5N1 in humans if it begins to mutate into a pandemic form - particularly in countries with less developed health infrastructures where time is wasted while cultures are shipped to and tested in central labs.

Using the droplets from a throat swab, this CD-like device can "isolate, purify, and amplify" the culture and scan it for the virus in under 30 minutes. Not only is the device easily portable but trials have shown it to be as effective at identifying the virus as equipment in central labs. The kit would also be about "5,000 percent cheaper" than currently available tools. It is not clear when the device will be available.

The study was published in the journal Nature Medicine: "Catching bird flu in a droplet."Juergen Pipper, Masafumi Inoue, Lisa F-P Ng, Pavel Neuzil, Yi Zhang, and Lukas Novak. Nature Medicine Published online: 23 September 2007.

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