Kit detects the ZIKA virus in blood in 10 to 15 minutes

7th June 2016
Nat Bowers

Tanaka has developed the world's first kit able to directly detect the ZIKA virus (ZIKV) in blood. The kit is capable of rapid ZIKV detection in just 10 to 15 minutes. Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo plans to supply samples for clinical evaluation with a view to collaboration with domestic and overseas medical manufacturers.

By making it possible for the first time to directly detect ZIKV in blood by immunochromatographic assay, the kit realises simpler, faster and lower cost detection than existing methods.

There is already an immunochromatographic assay method in practical application that detects the antibodies created in the human body following ZIKV infection, but the new kit makes it possible for the first time to directly detect ZIKV itself when present in the blood. By applying its unique antibody screening technology and nano-colloidal gold, Tanaka Kikinzoku Kogyo has developed the new kit using antibodies to nonstructural protein (NS1) in ZIKV, allowing ZIKV to be detected at a concentration of 102TCID50/mL. This detection performance equals the sensitivity of other immunochromatographic assay-based test kits for influenza and other pathogens.

The existing method used for detecting ZIKV in blood is PCR, which requires special equipment and takes between half a day and one day to complete. With the new kit, however, the test strip only needs to be dipped into the test sample to enable ZIKV detection. Additionally, it allows detection in 10 to 15 minutes, equalling the simplicity and speed of the influenza virus detection kit already in practical application. Furthermore, unlike PCR, it does not require special equipment, thus realising cost savings for users.

The spread of ZIKV has become a worldwide threat, with the World Health Organization declaring on February 1, 2016, that the Zika fever it causes represents a 'public health emergency of international concern'. It is estimated that more than 4m people are already infected on the South and North American continents. Specifically in Brazil, there is reportedly concern that this summer's Rio Olympics will see a further spread of the infection.

It is hoped that the development of the new kit will be highly effective in suppressing the spread of ZIKV infection.

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