26 June 2008
US Funding Development of New Diagnostic Tests for Influenza A H5N1 Virus in Humans with Results within 3 Hours
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in conjunction with the Office of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) have funded two US companies to develop “low-cost influenza tests that can differentiate seasonal human influenza viruses from avian influenza within three hours”. The press release can be found on the HHS website at www.hhs.gov
HHS stated that currently testing for H5N1 infection in humans “can take up to 24 hours”. The proposed new, faster tests (within 3 hours) for H5N1 virus infection “could be performed in a hospital or a commercial laboratory and would expedite the diagnosis of large numbers of patients”.
The two companies receiving the awards are Nanogen, Inc, San Diego, California and Meso Scale Diagnostics, LLC, Gaithersburg, Maryland.
The availability of such significantly faster diagnostic tests for human H5N1 virus infection could be of immediate clinical use to nations already experiencing human infections with H5N1 virus. Hopefully, these new tests would be sufficiently sensitive to detects the different clades and subclades of H5N1 including clade 2.1 in Indonesia, clade 2.2 in Africa, and clade 2.3 in China and some other parts of Asia.
Such faster diagnostic tests could be performed at “points-of-care” where persons with suspected H5N1 virus infection are seen and clinically evaluated. A positive test result could significantly improve clinical care and infection control measures. In addition, if one outcome of such new tests is that an effective antiviral drug (e.g., oseltamivir (Tamiflu)) is given earlier to patients who have H5N1 virus infection, then the extremely high case fatality rate recorded in all nations to date should be decreased.
Daniel R. Lucey, MD, MPH
EROne Institutes Department of Emergency Medicine
Washington Hospital Center
Adjunct Professor Microbiology and Immunology
Georgetown University Medical Center
Website for this posting: www.BePast.org