The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response will pursue development of an Ebola virus diagnostic test — for use in a physician’s office, hospital, clinic or field setting — that will provide results within 20 minutes, according to a news release. Quickly isolating patients helps limit the spread of the disease.
“Fast and inexpensive point-of-care diagnostics will improve our ability to control Ebola virus disease outbreaks,” Robin Robinson, PhD, director of ASPR’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which will oversee this development program for HHS, said in a news release. “Faster diagnosis of Ebola virus infections allows for more immediate treatment and an earlier response to protect public health worldwide.”
Emerging evidence has shown that early initiation of supportive care improves outcomes for patients suffering from Ebola virus disease, according to the release.
The development of this low-cost, lateral-flow test, called the OraQuick rapid Ebola antigen test, will take place under a $1.8-million contract with OraSure Technologies Inc., headquartered in Bethlehem, Pa. Lateral-flow tests detect the presence of a virus with a drop of the patient’s blood or saliva on a test strip, similar to the tests used to diagnose strep throat, according to the release. The contract could be extended for up to a total of 39 months and $10.4 million.
OraSure also will evaluate whether the test can be used in the post-mortem analysis of oral fluids. During the current epidemic, people died before Ebola virus infections could be confirmed, yet the bodies of people infected with Ebola virus would have remained highly infectious. Determining disease status quickly from a body’s oral fluids would facilitate infection control efforts and support the appropriate handling of remains infected with the Ebola virus, according to the release.
To help the U.S. prepare for and control Ebola virus disease outbreaks, BARDA also is supporting development of vaccines to prevent Ebola virus infections and therapeutic drugs to treat the disease.
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