Scientists Developed New Technology for Diagnosing Immunity to Ebola

A promising new approach to detect immunity to Ebola virus infection has been developed by researchers from i-sense in a collaboration between UCL and Imperial College London.

The new approach uses lateral flow technology similar to that of a pregnancy test coupled with smartphones to provide a promising alternative to lab-based testing. The study was published in ACS Nano on January, 2018. “This research represents a major milestone for i-sense and harnesses the power of mobile phones and paper microfluidic tests to rapidly analyze a patient’s immune response to Ebola with geo-located information to map disease ‘hotspots’ in Uganda,” said Professor Rachel McKendry, Professor of Biomedical Nanotechnology at UCL and Director of i-sense. A wide number of diagnostic tools have been developed to allow rapid diagnosis of patients. However, detection of antibodies is still performed using expensive time consuming lab-based equipment.

The test detects IgG antibodies against key viral proteins, which plays an important role as the basis of most currently-developed vaccines. It classifies protein against two additional viral proteins, which could be used as a toll for the identification of exposed populations to the deadly virus, as well as predication of acute patient survival rate. Coupling lateral flow tests and smartphones to track, test and treat infectious diseases provides significant advantages for point-of-care testing, as well as disease surveillance and outbreak control.

This test can be performed in just 15 minutes to result, allowing faster access to treatment and care, and prevent further infection. The identification of IgG antibodies might help understand exposure to the different strains of the Ebola virus, enable detection of immunity in the early stages of recovery, and potentially benefit the detection of asymptomatic infections and pre-vaccination assessment.

According to Biodetection Market report published by Coherent Market Insights, biodetection is witnessing increased acceptance owing to growing bio-terrorism, which in turn results in rising number of illnesses and related deaths. Researchers are working on developing the test to use whole blood samples taken from a finger prick to simplify the operational process without requirement of equipment and facilities.

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