This week, the Food and Drug Administration gave its stamp of approval to a new rapid test to detect the Ebola virus. The test is based on technology originally discovered at Tulane University.
Instead of taking days for lab results, the new test uses a drop of blood from a finger prick to deliver a diagnosis in just minutes. Getting a fast, accurate diagnosis is important in stopping the spread of the Ebola virus because of the need to quarantine patients as soon as possible, and because the initial symptoms of Ebola can mimic other common infectious diseases like typhoid and malaria.
Bob Garry is a professor of microbiology and immunology at Tulane University's School of Medicine. He’s been working on finding a faster way to detect Ebola for about five years. He says the rapid test could provide crucial help for patients in West Africa and the United States.
“We think this is very important,” Garry says. “The outbreak is still going on. There are still about 100 cases a week showing up in West Africa, even though it’s a lot better situation than it was a few months ago when there were thousands of cases. This outbreak isn’t over and we hope to be able to use the test to shut down the outbreak for good.”
The FDA authorization follows last week’s World Health Organization listing for procurement of the Ebola rapid diagnostic test, making the test available to the health care community worldwide.
The Corgenix Medical Corporation in Denver Colorado will manufacture and market the test.