Corgenix Medical Corp. announced on Thursday that it will extend its viral hemorrhagic fever rapid test development to include the Ebola virus, which has recently seen increased activity in West Africa.
Corgenix completed a multi-year study in collaboration with the Viral Hemorrhagic Fever Consortium at the Kenema Government Hospital in Kenema, Sierra Leone. The study tested several VHFC products, including the ReLASV Antigen Rapid Test for Lassa Virus.
"This outbreak reinforces the importance of developing and testing a rapid Ebola test," Robert Garry, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the Tulane University School of Medicine and principal investigator of the Consortium, said. "In patients demonstrating fevers, we need the ability to not only screen for Lassa, but also Ebola. The VHFC is expanding on our existing diagnostic testing foundation to advance Ebola testing in the same way we've been successful with the development of the rapid test for the Lassa virus."
The recent Ebola outbreak began in Guinea and suspected cases occurred in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
"This outbreak clearly demonstrates that Ebola, though rare, is still a major public health problem," Corgenix President and CEO Douglass Simpson said. "When it does occur, it is deadly, and getting test results back quickly is the key to diagnosing and treating patients and saving lives."
Testing for Ebola requires biohazard handling and samples are sent out of West Africa for processing. Receiving results can take several days and delays diagnosis and treatment. The Corgenix ReLASV test would provide rapid, accurate test results in 15 minutes, which would enable acute-level treatment.
"We are expanding our rapid testing platform to Ebola with the intention of extending screening to patients using these advanced diagnostics," Simpson said. "Due to the added risk to the population and health care workers, it will be important that health officials have the ability to screen not only for Lassa, but for Ebola, with a rapid test capable of being run in field hospitals in a format that works throughout West Africa."
Ebola can be transferred to humans through several animal species and close contact with infected individuals. Mortality rates of Ebola are between 50 percent and 90 percent, and it can kill within 10 days.