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EU gives green light for while-you-wait hepatitis B test
Date:5/18/2010

An inexpensive new test for the detection of Hepatitis B virus has been given regulatory approval for use in the European Union. The test, developed with support from the Wellcome Trust, delivers accurate results while-you-wait, enabling doctors to take immediate action on health decisions.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is highly infectious - one hundred times more infectious than HIV and is endemic in many parts of the world. In the UK alone, one in a thousand people are infected and in China and Africa, as many as one in six people carry the virus.

The virus is spread through contact with infected blood or other body fluids including sexual contact. Although the infection rarely kills, it can cause serious health problems and places a tremendous strain on healthcare resources.

The new Hepatitis B Rapid Test, developed with a Strategic Translation Award from the Wellcome Trust, uses a dipstick technology to deliver an accurate diagnosis on-site within half an hour and can be used with minimal training. Current methods of diagnosis require sending patient samples away to laboratories for analysis by skilled technicians using expensive machinery, taking days to weeks to obtain the results.

Professor Baruch S. Blumberg, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for the discovery of the Hepatitis B Virus and the invention of the HBV vaccine said: "Approval of the new Hepatitis B Rapid Test is positive news for the estimated 400 million HBV carriers worldwide. Studies have shown that anti-viral treatment can significantly decrease the risk of death from diseases linked to HBV infection, but most of the HBV carriers and patients in the world remain unidentified."

"Being able to identify carriers, initiate immediate treatment of appropriate candidates, and vaccinate family members and close contacts, has the potential to greatly accelerate the program to control HBV infection and spread."

"HBV infection and the di
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Contact: Jen Middleton
j.middleton@wellcome.ac.uk
44-207-611-7262
Wellcome Trust
Source:Eurekalert

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