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A new approach to early diagnosis of influenza
Date:9/8/2013

wever, they are expensive and sometimes come up negative when the patient actually does have the flu. As a result of that uncertainty, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages doctors to confirm test results with viral culture, which takes 3 to 10 days. But waiting this long for confirmation shuts the window on antiviral treatment.

Existing flu tests use antibodies that recognize flu virus antigens, proteins on the flu virus' surface. Iyer and Weiss took a different approach, which involves using carbohydrates to detect the antigens, and has advantages over antibody-based approaches. Flu viruses have two major antigens, hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, which determine the specific strain of flu virus. Changes in hemagglutinin and/or new combinations of hemagglutinin and neuraminidase signal the emergence of a new strain of virus. That happened in the spring of 2009, when the new "swine flu" ignited concerns about a worldwide epidemic.

In the ACS presentation, Iyer explained how the new test technology uses various forms of carbohydrates that can capture the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase, and via a color change or other signal, indicate both infection and the specific type or strain of flu virus. Information on the strain would be important, enabling doctors to pick the most effective antiviral drug. The new approach has other potential advantages, including quicker results, lower cost and greater reliability, he said.

So far, the approach is living up to expectations, with laboratory experiments verifying that it can detect flu viruses. Iyer and Weiss plan to move ahead in the autumn with tests on samples taken from human volunteers. Their vision is for a package similar to a strep throat or pregnancy test that gives an easy-to-read color change.


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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
317-262-5907 (Indianapolis Press Center, Sept. 6-11)
202-872-6042

Michael Woods
m_woods@acs.org
317-262-5907 (Indianapolis Press Center, Sept. 6-11)
202-872-6293

American Chemical Society
Source:Eurekalert


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