UTMB researchers were able to use another mosquito-borne virus that had remained largely unknown and unstudied in UTMB’s World Reference Center for Arboviruses, led by UTMB Professor Robert Tesh, to create the new test that could help doctors and researchers diagnose and track the spread of chikungunya.
The formerly unknown virus, now named Eilat virus, is related to chikungunya and other mosquito-borne viruses and was collected in Israel’s Negev Desert about three decades ago, said Scott Weaver, director of the Institute for Human Infections and Immunity at UTMB.
What researchers found is that they could replace the structural proteins of the Eilat virus with those of chikungunya and create a virus that looks like chikungunya to the immune system but will not replicate in humans, said Jesse Erasmus, a graduate student at UTMB who helped to develop the new test.
Most diagnostics available today use chikungunya virus that has been inactivated.
Health care professionals are able to take the serum of those suspected of being infected with chikungunya and, using the diagnostic test kit created in conjunction with InBios, have a result in less than two hours, Weaver said.
The development of a diagnostic kit for chikungunya virus is a classic example of a University-Industry partnership resulting in products which will improve the quality of life for at-risk patients.
“End users have provided positive feedback on the high quality of the kits and consistency of results.” Weaver said he believed the diagnostic kit could be of great help as chikungunya continues to spread. “If you have a kit that is simple to use and is more affordable, then more local hospitals and clinics can start using it rather than guessing whether someone has chikungunya,” Weaver said.
The Latest on: Chikungunya
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The Latest on: Chikungunya
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