The close collaboration between scientists from the Experimental Therapeutics Centre (ETC) under the Agency for Science and Technology Research (A*STAR) and clinicians from Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH) has enabled the successful development of the most comprehensive and rapid H5N1 bird flu test kit available to date. With this highly advanced kit, doctors can now rapidly detect all existing strains of the H5N1 viruses in a single test with almost 100% accuracy, within a few hours. This is a big boost to public healthcare system and a great stride forward in pandemic preparedness against this highly infectious disease worldwide.
The bird flu virus, scientifically termed as the Avian Influenza  virus, is usually lethal to the birds and normally does not transmit to humans. However, highly lethal and contagious strains like H5N1 Avian Influenza A virus that can 'jump' from birds to human have been reported to cause serious infections and even death rates as high as 60% in infected patients . Although anti-viral treatment is available, the potential for H5N1 bird flu virus to spark a pandemic remains a serious threat to public health as most humans do not have immunity to the H5N1 virus. Therefore, to successfully curb the spread of the disease during an outbreak, accuracy and speed of detection on the type of H5N1 virus is of essence for effective infection control intervention and patient management.
The current gold standard for H5N1 detection recommended by the World Health Organization  (WHO) is only able to detect three out of the 10 distinct genetic groups (clades 1, 2 and 3). To detect all existing strains of H5N1 with the WHO detection method would not be possible. The made-in-Singapore H5N1 test kit, which is more accurately known as the H5N1 real-time Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) assay, is the only detection kit currently available on the market that can accurately and rapidly detect all known stra
|Contact: Dr. Sarah Chang|
Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore