Principal Investigator: Sterghios A. Moschos, University of Northumbria
Symptomatic patients arriving at Ebola treatment centres in West Africa were triaged by a combination of reviewing their symptoms, assessing Ebola epidemiology in their community, and confirming infection through molecular diagnosis. Beyond acute high fever, symptoms that raise suspicion of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) include vomiting, diarrhoea and uncontrolled haemorrhage. Importantly, these coincide with high levels of viremia and contagiousness through contact with bodily fluids, and are also symptomatic of other diseases prevalent in West Africa, such as malaria.
It is thus necessary to quickly identify and isolate EVD patients to prevent further transmission. However, until that crucial negative molecular result is returned, patients that might be Ebola-free are cared for side-by-side with confirmed positive cases, at risk of acquiring the disease and death. Minimising the time to molecular diagnosis would therefore greatly improve the chances of controlling Ebola outbreaks.
The project has delivered ‘EbolaCheck’, a point-of-need diagnostic device suitable for simple, rapid and safe patient triage at treatment centres anywhere in West Africa. The approach is based on a combination of a validated, proprietary technology for rapid, direct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) on whole blood samples [ExSyte (EBVK8), based on WO2011157989] and the standard of care RTKPCR laboratory diagnostic assays used worldwide to confirm Ebola infection. The development of this diagnostic device has helped enhance patient triage and improve healthcare worker safety.
This project is the ﬁrst to bring a lab quality test to the patient, instead of sending the patient’s blood sample to the lab. The impact with respect to the cost and time involved to respond to this and future outbreaks of Ebola and other diseases will be substantial
How we developed a cheap, accurate, on-the-spot test for EbolaView
Ebola diagnosis breakthrough at Northumbria UniversityView
The EbolaCheck project led by Westminster University is working to deliver a rapid portable diagnostic device suitable for use in patient treatment centres in rural West Africa.View
In August 2014, the Ebola Outbreak in West Africa was declared an International Health Emergency by WHO and within a couple of weeks ELRHA launched a rapid-response call for research to combat the crisis. The UK Department for International Development (DFID), the Wellcome Trust and ELRHA opened a special funding window through the Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme.
The aim of this emergency call was both to produce robust research findings that could contribute to the effectiveness of the response to the current outbreak and help to draw lessons for future outbreaks of Ebola and other communicable diseases. The projects funded will strengthen the evidence base for the Ebola response in topics ranging from diagnostics to anthropology, surveillance and disease control.
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