Indian researchers have developed simple, safe and cost-effective dipstick for the early detection of dengue fever.
The test does not require skilled manpower or complicated equipment and could easily be used in resource-poor settings.
The researchers say its low cost, sensitivity and ease of use make it better than current tests for dengue.
Nagesh Tripathi and colleagues at the India-based Defence Research and Development Establishment developed a way to efficiently produce a protein that the dengue virus uses.
The protein was incorporated into a dipstick that shows a brown dot if a patient's blood sample contains antibodies to the virus — indicating an infection.
The team are yet to work out how much the dipstick will cost commercially, and say that further testing of how the dipstick works if a patient has another viral infection — such as typhoid or malaria — is necessary.
Dengue is a mosquito-borne viral disease affecting several tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It causes an estimated 100 million infections every year, with no effective vaccine against it.
While the disease itself is rarely fatal, a complication known as dengue haemorrhagic fever kills 20 per cent of victims if they do not receive treatment.
Dengue has recently undergone a dramatic expansion in several parts of Southeast Asia (see A killer arises: the global resurgence of dengue), making early diagnosis extremely
important for controlling outbreaks.
The research was published online last week (27 January) in Biotechnology Progress.
Link to abstract of paper in Biotechnology Progress