A new antibody-based test has been developed by scientist which can help differentiate Zika virus infections from infections caused by dengue and West Nile. Dengue and West Nile are the similar kind of viruses. Severe congenital birth defects are caused due to Zika disease which is a mosquito-borne disease. This new antibody-based test was developed at the University of California Berkeley and biotechnology company Humabs BioMed by researchers. It has a very high sensitivity of 91.8 per cent and specificity 95.9 per cent for identifying Zika virus infections.
The Professor at UC-B said that “The whole world has been in urgent need of a serological method to distinguish dengue virus from Zika virus infections, and this is the first to have such high sensitivity and specificity in dengue-endemic regions,”. To develop the test, Humabs generated a new human antibody to the Zika virus. The researchers then implemented the test on samples from Zika patients. They tested with or without prior exposure to dengue virus, and samples from dengue patients infected either once or more than once with different types of the dengue virus.
The data, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, showed that the test was highly sensitive, specific and robust. The Senior Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer from Humabs BioMed Davide Corti said, “These results support that the antibody-based assay that we have developed is highly effective in detecting both recent and past Zika virus infections and in discriminating Zika from other flavivirus infections,”. He further added that this novel test has the potential to become a simple, low cost and effective solution for Zika surveillance programs. The prevalence studies and clinical intervention trials in flavivirus-endemic areas,”.