Nav: Home

Hepatitis C: A novel point-of-care assay

April 10, 2018

One of the major challenges identified by the WHO in efforts to eradicate the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the diagnosis of chronic cases that are generally asymptomatic. Major progress is required for new diagnostic techniques that can be "decentralized", in other words accessed by populations and countries with limited resources. Scientists from the Institut Pasteur and Inserm, in collaboration with the company genedrive, have developed and validated a rapid, reliable, point-of-care HCV assay. This new screening assay means that patients can begin treatment for the disease as soon as they are diagnosed. The results have been published in the journal Gut on April 4th, 2018.

Hepatitis C is a liver disease caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The virus can result in chronic infection, which may lead to severe complications such as cirrhosis and liver cancer many years later. Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus affects approximately 1% of the global population (71 million people) and claims 400,000 lives every year when it develops into severe disease.

New direct-acting antivirals can successfully treat more than 95% of patients with chronic HCV infection if they are taken in time. In 2016, the WHO therefore published a plan to eliminate this major threat for public health by 2030. But the main challenge in meeting this ambitious target remains the diagnosis of asymptomatic patients, especially in low- or middle-income countries, where access to traditional screening assays is limited.

The current method for HCV diagnosis involves two stages. The first is to screen for specific HCV antibodies, but this does not reveal whether patients were infected in the past (and experienced spontaneous HCV clearance) or are still chronically infected. So the second stage requires a PCR1 assay to detect HCV RNA in the blood to confirm or rule out chronic infection.

There are rapid serological assays for HCV antibodies, but PCR screening requires dedicated infrastructure and qualified staff. In countries with limited resources, this type of assay is only available in centralized laboratories, which means that less than 1% of infected individuals in these regions actually know that they are infected. PCR screening may also involve several visits, and the time required between each result increases the risk of losing patients before the final diagnosis. To improve patient care from diagnosis to treatment, a screening assay for HCV RNA that can be "decentralized" and used in rural or low-income areas is urgently needed.

The team of scientists led by Darragh Duffy (Immunobiology of Dendritic Cells Unit, Institut Pasteur / Inserm) developed an assay in collaboration with the company genedrive that detects HCV RNA as reliably as existing assays but is faster and can be utilized at the point of care. PCR can be performed with the miniaturized device that enables the necessary succession of 40 reaction cycles to be carried out more quickly than in a conventional platform. The analysis can be performed in approximately an hour. This type of device is ultimately less costly than the current assays, which require significant laboratory infrastructure and maintenance.

The scientists began by clinically validating the assay on cohorts from the Institut Pasteur in France and the National Health Service in Nottingham, UK, then with data from Johannesburg-based Lancet Laboratories using samples from South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda.

The study demonstrated that the assay had a specificity of 100% - in other words there were no false positives - and a sensitivity of 98.6%, thereby meeting WHO requirements for this type of assay.

The kit has obtained CE certification for distribution in Europe and will be available for sale in the Middle East, Africa, South-East Asia and India once local regulatory clearance is obtained.
-end-
This study was funded by the organizations listed above and by the EU FP7 project POC-HCV.

Institut Pasteur

Related Hepatitis Articles:

Busting Up the Infection Cycle of Hepatitis B
Researchers at the University of Delaware have gained new understanding of the virus that causes hepatitis B and the ''spiky ball'' that encloses its genetic blueprint.
Liver cancer: Awareness of hepatitis D must be raised
Scientists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) and the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG) have studied the most serious consequence of chronic hepatitis: hepatocellular carcinoma.
Hepatitis B: New therapeutic approach may help to cure chronic hepatitis B infection
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München, Technical University of Munich (TUM) and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) have developed a novel therapeutic approach to cure chronic hepatitis B.
Anti-hepatitis medicine surprises
A new effective treatment of hepatitis C not only combats the virus, but is also effective against potentially fatal complications such as reduced liver functioning and cirrhosis.
Nanotechnology delivers hepatitis B vaccine
X-ray imaging shows that nanostructured silica acts as a protective vehicle to deliver intact antigen to the intestine so that it can trigger an immune response.
Checkmate for hepatitis B viruses in the liver
Researchers at Helmholtz Zentrum München and the Technical University of Munich, working in collaboration with researchers at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and the University Hospital Heidelberg, have for the first time succeeded in conquering a chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus in a mouse model.
How common is Hepatitis C infection in each US state?
Hepatitis C virus infection is a major cause of illness and death in the United States and injection drug use is likely fueling many new cases.
New strains of hepatitis C found in Africa
The largest population study of hepatitis C in Africa has found three new strains of the virus circulating in the general population in sub-Saharan Africa.
High stability of the hepatitis B virus
At room temperature, hepatitis B viruses (HBV) remain contagious for several weeks and they are even able to withstand temperatures of four degrees centigrade over the span of nine months.
Findings could lead to treatment of hepatitis B
Researchers have gained new insights into the virus that causes hepatitis B -- a life-threatening and incurable infection that afflicts more than 250 million people worldwide.
More Hepatitis News and Hepatitis Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.