INDIANAPOLIS, Sept. 8, 2013 A new technology is showing promise as the basis for a much-needed home test to diagnose influenza quickly, before the window for taking antiviral drugs slams shut and sick people spread the virus to others, scientists reported here today. In a presentation at the 246th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS), they described how it also could determine the specific strain of flu virus and help select the most effective drug for treatment.
The meeting of the world's largest scientific society, which features almost 7,000 presentations on new discoveries in science and other topics, continues here through Thursday.
Suri Iyer, Ph.D., explained that such a fast, inexpensive diagnostic test similar to the quick throat swabs for strep throat and to home pregnancy tests is especially important for flu, which causes widespread illness and an average of 36,000 deaths annually in the United States alone.
"Just going to the doctor's office or hospital for diagnosis can be counterproductive during a major flu outbreak," Iyer explained. "It carries the risk of spreading the disease. During the last swine flu outbreak, hospitals in some areas went on TV to tell people not come to the ER. Not only could they spread the virus, but ERs did not have the facilities to test hundreds of worried people."
Such a test also is important because antiviral drugs can ease symptoms of the disease and enable people to recover sooner and return to school, work and other activities, Iyer added. But to be most effective, the medications must be taken within two days after symptoms first appear.
Iyer, of Georgia State University in Atlanta, and University of Cincinnati colleague Allison Weiss, Ph.D., launched research on a fundamentally new approach for diagnosing flu and other viral disease because of drawbacks with existing tests. Those tests can produce results in about 15 minutes. Ho
|Contact: Michael Bernstein
317-262-5907 (Indianapolis Press Center, Sept. 6-11)