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Blog | November 2017

November 29, 2017: Rapid Zika Detection Test May Be Coming in 2018

Hospitals and health departments could have a new tool in 2018 to detect Zika – a test that is cheap, portable and fast.

The test involves a drop of blood, can get results in 20 minutes and doesn’t require blood be sent out to a lab. It was developed by a team of University of Central Florida researchers led by Qun Treen Huo.

Huo said the test is ideal for rural and low-income areas because it’s cheap and portable
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“We really want to put this test for rural area that don’t have access to expensive lab facility,” Huo said. “It’s a very simple test, does a quick test, our device is portable as well.”

Nano Discovery, a spinoff biotech company out of the University of Central Florida, said the test involves gold nanoparticles that are used to detect the Zika virus in a few drops of blood. The company also manufactures the machines that do the test.

Researchers optimistically hope to have U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and have the test on the market by mid-2018. In the future, Huo said the same technology can be used to look for other viruses, and her team has been researching it’s use for cancer screening as well.

“This basically test technology we developed is not only limited to Zika. It can be for many other infectious diseases,” Huo said.

Zika is a mild virus in adults, but can cause a myriad of birth defects in babies if a mother catches it during pregnancy. It’s primarily spread by mosquitoes but can be transmitted sexually as well.

Source: WMFE

November 28, 2017: Zika Nerve Damage May Stem from Virus Response

Nerve-related complications of Zika infection may be caused by the immune system’s response to the virus, not the virus itself, according to a new study.

Zika is spread primarily via the bite of an infected mosquito, but it may also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sexual contact. Most people who become infected don’t have any symptoms, but some develop serious neurological conditions. And an infection during pregnancy can cause devastating birth defects.

The researchers said their findings, based on experiments with mice, may help lead to new ways to treat people with Zika-related nerve complications, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome.

The syndrome can cause muscle weakness, tingling and even paralysis.

The Yale University research team found that when Zika infection spreads from the blood to the brain in mice, immune cells flood the brain. This limits the infection of brain cells, but it can also trigger paralysis.

“The immune cells that are generated by infection start attacking our own neurons,” study leader and immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki said in a university news release. “The damage is not occurring through the virus infection, but rather the immune response to the virus.”

The findings suggest that suppressing the immune system response may be a way to treat Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, research in animals frequently doesn’t produce similar results in humans.

The study was published online this month in the journal Nature Microbiology.

Source: Web MD

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