Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Novel economical blood test for hepatitis C

11.02.2009
Procedure permits mass screening of blood banks in poorer countries, too

A novel blood test could bring a breakthrough in the battle against the dangerous hepatitis-C virus. This procedure offers a considerably cheaper alternative to the normal commercial tests, whilst maintaining equal sensitivity.

So now, for the first time, poorer countries will also have the opportunity to monitor their entire blood banks for the hepatitis C virus using optimum methods. This procedure has been developed by researchers at Bonn University and the Bernhard-Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg. Scientists from Brazil, Singapore, South Africa and England were also engaged in this research. The study will appear in the journal "PLoS Medicine" on 10th February.

170 million people worldwide have already become infected with the hepatitis C virus. The early stages of the disease often go unnoticed. However, later symptoms include liver cancer and mortally dangerous liver cirrhosis. One of the chief sources of infection lies in contaminated blood banks, which is why all the bloodbanks in Europe or the USA are routinely tested for the hepatitis C virus. However, the poorer countries cannot afford this, or they have to rely on out-dated tests of inadequate sensitivity. The new procedure could change all this. "In Brazil, a standard hepatitis C test costs over 100 dollars a sample – for us, in contrast, the cost lies at just under 19 dollars", declares Dr. Jan Felix Drexler. 10 dollars of this are licence fees – several major pharmaceutical companies hold patents for the genome of the hepatitis C virus.

Dr. Drexler, who has been engaged in the development of this new test procedure, has just removed from the Bernhard-Nocht Institute in Hamburg to Bonn University. The procedure functions, in principle, in exactly the same way as most of the commercial tests hitherto available on the market: all these procedures recognise genotype sequences in the blood, which originate from the hepatitis C virus. However, the problem is that various types of pathogen exist, whose genotypes are sometimes very different. A good blood test ought to raise the alarm equally well for each of these types. "In Asia, for example, we often find different hepatitis C viruses from ours", says Dr. Drexler. "But when a tourist becomes infected in Thailand and subsequently donates blood in Germany, we must be able to diagnose these blood samples without fail, too".

600 Blood Samples examined

At many points, however, the genotypes of diverse pathogens are to a great extent identical. Genetisists speak here of conserved regions, and all commercial tests have been "specialised" with respect to one of these points. The new procedure, in contrast, reacts when it detects sequences from a different conserved region which has not so far been used for HCV diagnosis. Working on the basis of just under 600 blood samples from five different countries, researchers were able to demonstrate just how well this functions. "We are, at least, just as sensitive as the two best standard procedures", emphasises Professor Dr. Christian Drosten, a virologist from Bonn University. "This is true for all types of virus".

Passes Practical Test in Brazil

So now, for the first time, poorer countries also have the chance to test their blood banks, and at comparatively small cost. "This would be a significant breakthrough for containing the disease", Dr. Drexler stresses. "After all, transfusions are a major source of propagation". In one Brazilian laboratory the new blood test has already been given trials on 127 patients – with outstanding success. In this latest publication, the researchers reveal every detail of their methods. "For anyone wishing to use this test we can also supply the control reagents", Dr. Drexler declares. Commercial suppliers, in contrast, maintain the strictest secrecy regarding the precise data of their tests.

But this procedure will not only detect the presence of an infection with hepatitis C viruses. Doctors can also determine the total concentration of the viruses in the blood. Hence this blood test can also be used, for example, for monitoring therapeutic success. According to Dr. Drexler, "In this way we could spare many patients months of expensive treatment, and the unpleasant side-effects, too".

Persons wishing to use this test should apply to Dr. Jan Felix Drexler: Telephone: 0228/287-11697, e-mail: drexler@virology-bonn.de

Dr. Christian Drosten | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uni-bonn.de
http://www.virology-bonn.de
http://www.bni-hamburg.de

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Researchers release the brakes on the immune system
18.10.2017 | Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

nachricht Norovirus evades immune system by hiding out in rare gut cells
12.10.2017 | University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Neutron star merger directly observed for the first time

University of Maryland researchers contribute to historic detection of gravitational waves and light created by event

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars--the dense, collapsed cores that remain...

Im Focus: Breaking: the first light from two neutron stars merging

Seven new papers describe the first-ever detection of light from a gravitational wave source. The event, caused by two neutron stars colliding and merging together, was dubbed GW170817 because it sent ripples through space-time that reached Earth on 2017 August 17. Around the world, hundreds of excited astronomers mobilized quickly and were able to observe the event using numerous telescopes, providing a wealth of new data.

Previous detections of gravitational waves have all involved the merger of two black holes, a feat that won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics earlier this month....

Im Focus: Smart sensors for efficient processes

Material defects in end products can quickly result in failures in many areas of industry, and have a massive impact on the safe use of their products. This is why, in the field of quality assurance, intelligent, nondestructive sensor systems play a key role. They allow testing components and parts in a rapid and cost-efficient manner without destroying the actual product or changing its surface. Experts from the Fraunhofer IZFP in Saarbrücken will be presenting two exhibits at the Blechexpo in Stuttgart from 7–10 November 2017 that allow fast, reliable, and automated characterization of materials and detection of defects (Hall 5, Booth 5306).

When quality testing uses time-consuming destructive test methods, it can result in enormous costs due to damaging or destroying the products. And given that...

Im Focus: Cold molecules on collision course

Using a new cooling technique MPQ scientists succeed at observing collisions in a dense beam of cold and slow dipolar molecules.

How do chemical reactions proceed at extremely low temperatures? The answer requires the investigation of molecular samples that are cold, dense, and slow at...

Im Focus: Shrinking the proton again!

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, using high precision laser spectroscopy of atomic hydrogen, confirm the surprisingly small value of the proton radius determined from muonic hydrogen.

It was one of the breakthroughs of the year 2010: Laser spectroscopy of muonic hydrogen resulted in a value for the proton charge radius that was significantly...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ASEAN Member States discuss the future role of renewable energy

17.10.2017 | Event News

World Health Summit 2017: International experts set the course for the future of Global Health

10.10.2017 | Event News

Climate Engineering Conference 2017 Opens in Berlin

10.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electrode materials from the microwave oven

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

New material for digital memories of the future

19.10.2017 | Materials Sciences

Physics boosts artificial intelligence methods

19.10.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>