French Researchers Come up with 15-Minute Ebola Diagnostic Test

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With a format identical to that of a pregnancy test kit, the new diagnostic kit “will be usable in the field… using a drop of blood, plasma or urine.”

The job of detecting patients contaminated by the Ebola virus in order to prevent its propagation is at the heart of the challenge to win against the deadly virus. French researchers from the Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux énergies Alternatives (CEA) have developed a fast diagnostic test of the Ebola virus in less than 15 minutes in the field, the organisation announced on Tuesday.

According to the CEA, the test – which operates under a format identical to that of the over-the-counter pregnancy test “will be usable in the field without any special equipment, using a drop of blood, plasma or urine.”

It will give an accurate indication on a suspect patient’s status “in less than 15 minutes for any patient presenting symptoms of the disease,” said the Paris-based state organisation in a communiqué.

Developed by a CEA team in Marcoule in the Gard, the test was “validated” by the high-security microbiology laboratory P4 Jean Mérieux in Lyon on the strain that is currently raging in West Africa. Its industrialisation phase should begin soon with the French company Vedalab, European leader in the rapid-tests market.

A prototype will be available from the end of October allowing its clinical validation in the field, according to the CEA. The current diagnostic tests for Ebola, based on the genetic detection of the virus, take on average a little over two hours and can only be carried out under laboratory conditions. The interest in rapid tests is to be able to make diagnoses up close amongst the populations affected.

Rapid tests are currently being developed in several countries. Japanese researchers had announced last month that they had found a new method of detecting the virus in 30 minutes. American researchers, meanwhile, are working on a test that should be capable of diagnosing the virus in 10.

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