Rapid testing for Ebola now possible with IES Diagnostics
IES Diagnostics, Inc., a U.S. based molecular diagnostics company specializing in companion diagnostics and personalized medicine, says that its proprietary, patented assay is capable of detecting and quanitfying all of the interferon signatures for any disease or virus with an interferon reaction. Viral infections, certain cancers and auto-immune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis, both of which are said to be caused by mycoplasma infection, are among the conditions that can be detected through the assay. The availability of the company’s interferon signature assay could benefit both patients and healthcare professionals by helping to diagnose diseases quicker and with greater accuracy.
It’s been said that timing is everything, and in light of the present Ebola virus outbreak, and the fact that just recently the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) finally admitted that Ebola is indeed an airborne pathogen, the company’s new Rapid Ebola Pre-Symptom Screening Test is the need of the hour. IES says the test can accurately determine if a patient is infected with Ebola 24 hours after they contract the virus. Since the Ebola virus can live undetected in the human body for periods of days or weeks before a patient develops symptoms, the availability and appropriate use of this early testing technology could play a key role in the eradication of Ebola. While this new test is surely a blessing, researchers expect upcoming validation tests to detect the presence of Ebola even earlier, possibly within a few hours of infection.
With only a drop of blood, the Rapid Ebola Pre-Symptom Screening Test is supposed to detect the unique combination of interferons, called an interferon signature, that the human body produces immediately after cells are infected with the Ebola virus. The test can identify the interferon signature to Ebola before the virus itself can be detected. IES Diagnostics says the test relies on polymerase chain reaction (PCR), which helps to detect the RNA of the Ebola virus, and is the same method currently employed in Ebola testing. Additionally, specimens are collected, stored and transported in the same manner as those used in Ebola antibody tests. IES says the interferon signature screening tool is the only test available that can identify the body’s response to Ebola infection several days before viral RNA becomes detectable.
The Ebola tests that are presently in use, or are being developed, are only able to diagnose infection after the virus has replicated to high levels in the body, generally 8-21 days after a person contracts Ebola. By that time, it’s often too late since the person is already exhibiting symptoms of the deadly disease. IEA says these existing tests work by identifying Ebola antibodies through protein detection and are less sensitive than the company’s interferon signature testing. Furthermore, the company says antibody tests are only effective in diagnosing Ebola once the amount of antibodies present reaches a high enough level to be detected, which means an infected person may not get a proper diagnosis for days or weeks after contracting the virus.
Failing to diagnose Ebola in a timely and accurate manner can not only lead to the death of an infected person, but can also result in unecessarily extensive quarantine periods for those who are not infected, or delay the necessary quarantine of someone who is infected yet asymptomatic. This is one problem faced when using existing Ebola testing procedures, as the sensitivity of those tests is insufficient, sometimes causing a false negative result which leads an infected person to avoid quarantine. If an infected person is not quarantined, he could unintentionally spread the virus to others while delaying his own treatment. The Rapid Ebola Pre-Symptom Screening Test was designed to do what existing tests cannot, which is to quickly detect the presence of Ebola before symptoms manifest, quarantine and administer treatment to infected people faster and prevent those who are not infected from being quarantined for unreasonable periods.
Ronald Jubin, molecular biologist and Founder/President of IES Diagnostics, Inc. elaborated on the subject, “Interferon response is the ideal rapid diagnostic tool since it appears immediately after cells are infected with a virus, and because each response is virus-specific, we can tell if someone has Ebola based on the interferon signature that appears. Being able to test people long before they are contagious is a critical turning point in the fight against Ebola, and our ultimate target is to develop a handheld device capable of producing a result within minutes of infection.”
The company’s interferon signature-based technology was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and licensed exclusively to IES Diagnostics, Inc. by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).