New Bird Flu Test Kit Detects H5N1 Virus Within Hours
Tech & Pharma
May 29, 2012
Scientists in Singapore have developed a new H5N1 bird flu diagnostic kit that detects all known strains of the virus with a single test.
AsianScientist (May 29, 2012) – Scientists in Singapore have developed a new H5N1 bird flu diagnostic kit that detects all known strains of the virus with a single test.
The kit is the result of a collaboration between scientists from the A*STAR Experimental Therapeutics Center (ETC) and clinicians from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).
Although the avian influenza virus does not typically transmit to humans, highly lethal and contagious strains such as the H5N1 Avian Influenza A virus are able to infect humans.
Despite available anti-viral treatments, a potential H5N1 bird flu virus pandemic remains a serious threat to public health, making detection speed vital during an outbreak.
But the current gold standard for H5N1 detection recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) is only able to detect three out of the ten distinct genetic groups (clades 1, 2 and 3).
The new H5N1 test kit, which is based on a real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) assay, is the only commercially available detection kit that can accurately and rapidly detect all known strains of the H5N1 virus in a single test within hours.
Co-developed by Dr. Masafumi Inoue, a senior research scientist and Project Director of Technology Development from ETC, and Dr. Timothy Barkham, a senior consultant of laboratory medicine from TTSH, this newly launched H5N1 test kit has been clinically validated by several hospitals in Southeast Asia.
“We are excited to be able to contribute to the fight against H5N1 virus with our expertise and know-how. Our technology has greatly simplified and accelerated the process of detection and identification of new H5N1 variants,” said Inoue.
Dr. Barkham noted that while there has not been any reported H5N1 cases in Singapore, this subtype of influenza virus type A continues to be a concern for its frequency of mutation.
To improve diagnostic speeds and save on clinical costs, the test kit has also been designed to be compatible with the “4-plex” Influenza diagnostic kit commonly used in Thai hospitals.
AITbiotech Pte Ltd, a regional provider of genomic services and molecular diagnostics kits, will market this H5N1 kit regionally.
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