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EbolaPortable, fast Ebola test kit in trials in Guinea
Scientists say that early diagnosis is key to surviving Ebola once a person has been infected. Roughly 50 percent of those known to be infected with Ebola have died, but scientists hope to reduce the number as a new test designed to diagnose the Ebola virus in humans in under fifteen minutes will be tried out at a treatment center in Conakry, Guinea. The test is six times faster than tests currently used in West Africa.The mobile testing device is one of six projects jointly funded by Wellcome and the U.K.’s Department for International Development under the 6.5 million pounds Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises initiative.
The number of people infected with Ebola in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea has risen above 16,000, with a death toll reaching almost 7,000, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). The death toll is more than 1,000 higher that the figure WHO issued a week ago, but it accounts for previously unreported deaths, most of which occurred in villages with poor tracking and record keeping procedures.
Roughly 50 percent of those known to be infected with Ebola have died, but scientists hope to reduce the number as a new test designed to diagnose the Ebola virus in humans in under fifteen minutes will be tried out at a treatment center in Conakry, Guinea. The test is six times faster than tests currently used in West Africa, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insists that early diagnosis is key to surviving Ebola once a person has been infected.
TheGuardian reports that the trial led by researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal, and funded by international health charity The Wellcome Trust and the British government, will use a portable lab the size of a laptop computer with a solar panel, a power pack, and a results reader, ideal for use in poor villages where electricity is often in short supply. The reagent substances used in the test to detect the Ebola virus are available as dried pellets that do not require cold storage. “A reliable, 15-minute test that can confirm cases of Ebola would be a key tool for effective management of the Ebola outbreak,” said Dr. Val Snewin of the Wellcome Trust. “It not only gives patients a better chance of survival, but it prevents transmission of the virus to other people.”
The mobile testing device is one of six projects jointly funded by Wellcome and the U.K.’s Department for International Development under the £6.5 million Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises initiative. Another Ebola testing device funded by the initiative, and developed by the University of Westminster, will test bodily fluids for Ebola and deliver results within forty minutes.
In October, France’s Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) teamed up with European pharmaceutical company Vedalab to produce a device that identifies Ebola under fifteen minutes. The kit, “Ebola eZYSCREEN,” includes a handheld device that tests small samples of blood, plasma, or urine to detect the virus. “It aims to facilitate the supply chain and decision-making process necessary for people on the ground. It would particularly reduce the number of tests needing to be carried out in a dedicated laboratory,” a CEA spokesperson said.
“There is hope: the hope of those who have been cured. The hope that we can control this epidemic … The very fact that hope exists,” French President François Hollande told health workers as he toured an Ebola treatment center in Conakry last Friday, where he pledged $125 million towards eradicating Ebola in the affected countries.
— Read more in “New 15-Minute Ebola Diagnostic to be Trialed in Guinea,” Global Biodefense (1 December 2014)