Pa­tient trial val­i­dates af­ford­able 15-minute Ebola rapid test

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

A 15-minute, on-the-spot blood test for Ebola was as ac­cu­rate in a pa­tient trial as the most widely used lab­o­ra­tory- based test, its U.S.-based de­vel­op­ers said Fri­day.

An af­ford­able, rapid di­ag­nos­tic test would be an in­valu­able tool for health work­ers on the ground, al­low­ing them to quickly iden­tify and iso­late in­fected in­di­vid­u­als and cur­tail the spread of the deadly hem­or­rhagic virus.

Dubbed ReEBOV, the kit man­u­fac­tured by Colorado-based Cor­genix, works with a drop of blood from a fin­ger prick and a test strip that changes color in five to 15 min­utes.

It re­quires very lit­tle train­ing to use, but one po­ten­tial draw­back is that it needs re­frig­er­a­tion.

The stan­dard test in use to­day, Real­Star RT-PCR, re­quires anal­y­sis of much larger blood sam­ples at a lab­o­ra­tory with a high biosafety level and trained staff — fa­cil­i­ties of­ten not within easy reach of out­break zones.

Man­u­fac­tured by Ger­man com­pany al­tona Di­ag­nos­tics, Real­Star also poses risks to those who col­lect, trans­port and test the sam­ples.

“Lab­o­ra­tory re­sults can some­times take days to re­turn,” said a press state­ment is­sued by The Lancet med­i­cal jour­nal, which pub­lished the study re­sults.

“De­lays like this re­sult not only in the fail­ure to di­ag­nose and treat Ebola-in­fected pa­tients, but also in in­di­vid­u­als with­out Ebola be­ing ad­mit­ted to hold­ing units where they may be sub­se­quently in­fected with the virus,” it quoted the study’s se­nior au­thor Nira Pol­lock, of the Bos­ton Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal, as say­ing.

For the trial, Pol­lock and a team used both the ReEBOV rapid test and Real­Star on 105 sus­pected Ebola pa­tients in Fe­bru­ary this year at two gov­ern­ment-run treat­ment cen­ters in Sierra Leone — one of three coun­tries hard­est hit by the cur­rent out­break.

ReEBOV de­tected

all 28 Ebola cases di­ag­nosed by Real­Star — a 100-per­cent level of sen­si­tiv­ity, but much, much faster.

From this, “we can con­clude that the ReEBOV rapid di­ag­nos­tic test could be very use­ful as a rapid test for Ebola virus dis­ease at the point of care in high-risk pop­u­la­tions,” the study said.

But the re­search also re­vealed some dis­con­cert­ing data con­cern­ing the re­li­a­bil­ity of the bench­mark test, Real­Star, it­self.

Six of the 77 Real­Star-neg­a­tive cases tested pos­i­tive with ReEBOV. And fur­ther checks with an al­ter­na­tive Real­Star-like test called Tromb­ley, not yet in wide use, re­vealed a hand­ful of cases with low virus lev­els that had been missed by both the oth­ers.

This meant also that the team could not de­ter­mine how ac­cu­rate ReEBOV was in pa­tients in the early phase of in­fec­tion, when virus lev­els are low.

While other pro­to­type fast-track tests are also be­ing de­vel­oped and tested, ReEBOV is the only rapid di­ag­nos­tic test for Ebola to have been granted emer­gency use sta­tus by the U.N.’s World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO).

The WHO says there have been 11,207 re­ported deaths and 27,443 cases in the cur­rent West African Ebola out­break — the dead­li­est in history.

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