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 Nanoparticles as a Solution against Antibiotic Resistance?
15.12.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

nachricht Plasmonic biosensors enable development of new easy-to-use health tests
14.12.2017 | Aalto University

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: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Diamond Lenses and Space Lasers at Photonics West

15.12.2017 | Trade Fair News

A better way to weigh millions of solitary stars

15.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New epidemic management system combats monkeypox outbreak in Nigeria

15.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>