Researchers have managed to make a salivary test to identify the Zika virus. It was designed from the HIV testing model.
More than 3,000 infants were infected with microcephalia in Brazil between 2015 and 2016 due to maternal contamination with Zika virus. If the epidemic that hit South America in 2015 marked the spirits, the virus had already been identified in 1952 in Uganda in humans. For researchers, it is necessary to find an effective way to treat patients and especially to identify the virus. US scientists are working on the development of a salivary test, adapted to the model of the HIV test. This study is conducted by researchers from the University of Dentistry of New York and Rheonix, a research laboratory. It has been published on the Eurekalert! Website.
Results in 20 minutes
"The latest Zika virus outbreaks confirm that we need an effective surveillance and diagnostic program to reduce the impact of future outbreaks," says Maite Sabalza, one of the authors of this study. Scientists have been working on a quick way to detect the virus. In fact, it can disappear blood a week after the contamination, but so far the tests are based on blood tests.
This new test uses saliva to detect virus contamination. It makes it possible to analyze the antibodies and the nucleic acid. Cheap, easy to do and collect, this technique also has the advantage of being very fast, the results are available in just 20 minutes. "The sooner we detect the pathogen, the sooner we can put in place measures to treat and isolate people.In an epidemic, we could test people before they get on the plane. passing the security at the airport will not mean taking off your shoes but spitting in a tube, "says Daniel Malamud, a science professor at the University of Dentistry in New York.
An adaptable test in the future
To adapt the HIV test, the researchers changed the markers to identify the nucleic acid sequences of Zika rather than those of AIDS. Also, they identified Zika antigens, which then detect virus-specific antibodies present in saliva. "We have developed a generic protocol that can be used to test the Zika virus but that could also be adapted to the next infectious diseases, or the return of some," concludes Maite Sabalza. If the Zika epidemic has calmed down in 2017, especially in Brazil, the virus could reappear, even in other forms.