New point-of-care test may help tackle flu pandemics

The test successfully detected flu in 70 percent of participants in a recent study, and did so much more quickly than traditional tests for the virus.
By Amy Wallace  |  May 10, 2017 at 2:38 PM
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May 10 (UPI) -- Researchers have developed a fast and easy-to-use point-of-care diagnostic test that has the potential to stave off global flu pandemics.

The traditional method of flu diagnostics involves expensive techniques, laboratory facilities, trained staff and time, which can be problematic during flu outbreaks or pandemics.

In a recent study, published in the journal Analytical Chemistry, researchers used multiple steps in influenza detection including viral lysis, target protein capture, labeling, rinsing and an enzyme-driven color change into a single point-of-care diagnostic device.

The device, which researchers say costs less than $6 each, works by analyzing the contents of a cotton swab from inside a patient's nose. The swab is inserted into the device and is twirled for about 10 seconds to release the virus. The device then uses all of the other detection tools it contains to produce a visual readout that can be seen by the naked eye or captured with a smartphone camera in about 35 minutes.

Researchers trained staff at Seattle Children's Hospital to use the device on 25 patients during a flu outbreak. The device detected influenza A with 70 percent accuracy.

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