A test to detect Ebola in just 15 minutes is set to start human trials to determine the efficacy and safety of the potential health test for human users.
An Ebola treatment center in Conakry, Guinea will be the site of the trials.
Current tests for Ebola usually take around 90 minutes to determine whether or not a patient has been exposed to the virus that causes the disease. Developers of the new test hope their product will help speed diagnosis, providing earlier treatments, and potentially, reducing the number of deaths from the disease.
A "mobile suitcase laboratory" will be used during the trials, providing a means of delivering diagnostic services in remote regions. This hand-help laboratory consists of a results reader, roughly the size of a laptop computer, a power supply, and solar cells to power the device. Chemicals used in the test can be stored at room temperature, emitting the need for cooling units. The device detects the virus through analyzing DNA found in the blood or saliva of subjects.
"A reliable, 15-minute test that can confirm cases of Ebola would be a key tool for effective management of the Ebola outbreak - allowing patients to be identified, isolated and cared for as soon as possible. It not only gives patients a better chance of survival, but it prevents transmission of the virus to other people," Val Snewin, International Activities Manager at the Wellcome Trust, said.
The Wellcome Trust and government agencies in the United Kingdom are financially sponsoring research into the new diagnostic product.
"Britain's first Ebola laboratory is already up and running in Sierra Leone and two more are currently being constructed. Together these will quadruple the number of tests that can be carried out every day and helping contain the spread of Ebola," Justine Greening, international development secretary in the United Kingdom, stated in a press release.
French President Francois Hollande stopped in Guinea on November 28, becoming the first western leader to visit an African nation ravished by the Ebola epidemic on the continent. The government in Paris has pledged $125 million dollars to Guinea, a former colony, to help the nation fight the disease.
"There have been 15 935 reported cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD), with 5689 reported deaths. 600 cases were reported in the three most-affected countries in the past week. Case incidence is stable in Guinea, stable or declining in Liberia, but may still be increasing in Sierra Leone," the World Health Organization (WHO) reported in a situation report dated November 26, 2014.
Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) recently announced a new vaccine is able to trigger an immune response in humans, which attacks Ebola. The potential preventative medicine has just started its earliest human trials.