Date: 3 June, 2014
Novel diagnostic approach may help identify the millions of individuals who are unknowingly infected.
Each year between 350,000–500,000 individuals die from hepatitis C (HCV)-related liver diseases, and while treatment options are making significant advances infection often goes undiagnosed until serious liver damage has developed. Now, a team of scientists from Peking Union Medical College (Beijing, China) have reported a novel, paper-based test to diagnose HCV in a rapid and cost-effective manner.
Reporting their findings in the journal Analytical Chemistry, Xuan Mu, Zhi Zheng and colleagues used a metal paper cutter to create flower-shaped patterns in order to combine segmented diagnostic assays into a single multiplex test. The method, which tests for human IgG antibody against HCV, saves on both cost and time as current diagnostic tests for HCV require an initial screening before a costly second test for confirmation. As a result, people often do not follow up for a definitive diagnosis meaning a number of individuals are unknowingly infected and pass the virus to others.
Taking advantage of the recent development of paper-based medical technologies to make diagnosis more accessible, the authors note that the test could “significantly transform the clinical pathway for unwitting individuals with HCV infection…highlighting the promising role of microfluidic paper-based immunoassays in tackling the diagnostic challenge for the HCV pandemic as well as other diseases.”
Sources: Mu X, Zhang L, Chang S, Cui W, Zheng Z. Multiplex microfluidic paper-based immunoassay for the diagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection. Anal. Chem. DOI:10.1021/ac500247f (2014) (Epub ahead of print); Paper-based diagnostics, made with a scrapbooking tool, could curb hepatitis C pandemic.