One test kit, 15 viruses

Tuesday, 13 June, 2017 | Supplied by: Genetic Signatures

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Molecular diagnostics company Genetic Signatures announced the results of a clinical trial testing its Flavivirus detection kit at the 27th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) earlier this year. The trial, which was conducted in partnership with Port Vila Central Hospital, has demonstrated the global potential of the detection kit in helping prevent the spread of serious infectious diseases such as Zika and West Nile virus.

The Flaviviridae are a family of viruses that are found primarily in ticks and mosquitoes and can infect humans, causing widespread morbidity and mortality throughout the developed and developing world. Some of the mosquito-transmitted viruses include yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, West Nile viruses and Zika virus, while flaviviruses transmitted by ticks are responsible for encephalitis and haemorrhagic diseases.

Hampering the efforts of the international health community, this complex viral family has many similar variants, making conventional detection methods labour intensive. To help address this global challenge, Genetic Signatures’ flavivirus pathogen detection kit prototype leverages the company’s 3base technology that is also found in the company’s enteric, respiratory and STI product suite.

Using existing compatible nucleic acid extraction equipment (or a low-cost, easy-to-install and easy-to-use robot equivalent), hospital and pathology labs will be able to test for 15 of the most common variants of the flaviviruses and alphaviruses, including all four dengue serotypes, in a single real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primer test. Once the virus family type is determined, a second regional test has been designed for Australia, Asia, Africa, Latin America, America or Europe to then determine the specific viral infection.

“Mosquito- and tick-borne illnesses are complex and certainly not unique to the developing world,” said Genetic Signatures CEO Dr John Melki. “As awareness for flavivirus-related diseases grows, the Genetic Signatures Flavivirus pathogen detection kit, which benefits from the simpler and more effective capabilities of 3base technology, will help address this complex global challenge head-on.”

Vanuatu experienced a significant outbreak of dengue fever late last year. With dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) having a more than 20% mortality rate if left untreated, diagnosis was difficult and time consuming as most samples had to be sent to New Zealand for detection analysis.

“In a 187-patient cohort, our new screening kit detected 123 cases of dengue, of which 116 were confirmed to be serotype 2,” said Genetic Signatures Chief Scientific Officer Dr Doug Millar, who presented the trial results at ECCMID.

“Furthermore, our real-time PCR assay was able to deliver faster results with a high degree of accuracy. This provides a high degree of confidence in the results obtained, much quicker patient outcomes and valuable population infection data for future location-based planning and mitigation.”

“Along with the ability to screen for multiple flavivirus and alphavirus pathogens in a short space of time, the practical benefits of this new detection kit include saved resources and the opportunity to more rapidly help millions of people around the world and prevent the wider spread of these serious infectious diseases,” said Dr Melki.

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