Ugandan Researchers Develop New Ebola Test
VOICE OF AMERICA
Researchers in Uganda say they have developed a new Ebola test kit that detects the virus in minutes, replacing current tests that take anywhere from several hours to several days. The development is a potential milestone in the fight against the deadly virus.
According to researchers at Makarere University in Kampala, the new test can detect the virus in the early stages of exposure. Misaki Wayengera, leader of the research group, said the test may be able to prevent future outbreaks like the one in West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people.
“We want a test that can run through the whole spectrum of infection,” he said. “By the time someone develops temperature problems, they’re already past 21 days of infection. So the test we’re developing should be able to capture people even before they develop their symptoms — you know, the fever, the bleeding.”
The accuracy of the test has been verified by Grant Challenges Canada, a Canadian government-funded program that promotes health projects in low-income countries. The organization partially funded the research that developed the new test.
Babirye Janet Peace, a lab technologist who was part of the rapid test kit’s development, said it is easy to use. With one drop of blood on a small piece of paper, medical workers will be able to detect whether someone has Ebola within hours of initial exposure.
With current methods, medical staffers often need a laboratory and must carry out elaborate tests. This proved quite challenging with the virus surfacing in remote forest villages.
One of the main challenges for the project was finding sufficient funding. But with the major epidemic in West Africa, donors were more willing to step up. Wayengera said profit cannot be the driving factor when developing medical projects that can save lives.