SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Guinea tests mobile suitcase lab for Ebola diagnosis

Guinea tests Ebola mobile suitcase laboratory | Courtesy of waterandhealth.org
In Guinea, scientists have successfully tested a new approach to rapidly diagnose Ebola – a mobile suitcase laboratory.

The suitcase laboratory uses solar power and allows users to conduct simple, on-site diagnostics even in areas that are remote and don’t have a laboratory equipped for Ebola. This new method, called recombinase polymerase amplification technique (RPA), uses viral RNA to rapidly identify the infection with oral swabs from infected people.

"In the analysis we were able to determine two things," Ahmed Abd El Wahed, currently in the department of microbiology and animal hygiene at the University of Göttingen and a guest scientist at the German Primate Center, said. "First, RPA works very well with oral swab samples, which greatly simplifies sampling in the future, because it is faster and less complicated than sampling blood. Second, we have demonstrated that RPA is as sensitive and specific as the gold standard, but technically much more simpler than the real-time PCR methods.”

The health care workers can identify an Ebola infection within just 30 minutes.

"Nine hundred twenty eight oral swab samples were tested with RPA, 120 samples were positive and 808 negative,” Abd El Wahed said. “The reference real-time PCR method gave exactly the same results.”

The test has proven to be remarkably accurate.

"That is a 100 percent accuracy," Abd El Wahed said. "In addition, we observed during the test that RPA even works better than a currently commonly used [World Health Organization] approved real-time PCR for the detection of Ebola."

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