The New Economy

The New Economy

February 09, 2016 09:55 ET

Canadian Scientists Develop Innovative Protein Test for Zika

LONDON, ENGLAND--(Marketwired - Feb. 9, 2016) - A group of Canadian scientists is creating one of the most groundbreaking tests for the Zika virus infection yet.

Alberta-based Ingenuity Lab - together with researchers from the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta - has plans to develop a blood-based examination, which looks for Zika virus proteins during infection, thereby speeding up the detection process.

There is currently no widely available test for Zika, and the ones in existence - which rely on polymerase chain reaction-based testing to detect the genetic material of the virus - are expensive, time consuming and require specialised equipment.

Ingenuity Lab hopes that its test will rapidly speed up the tracing of Zika, which the World Health Organization declared a public health emergency of global concern.

Ingenuity Lab is headed by world-leading nanotechnology expert Dr Carlo Montemagno - who will work on the new test with fellow scientists Dr Thomas Thundat and Dr Tom Hobman.

Montemagno believes that a multi-disciplinary approach is key to solving mankind's greatest issues. Experts at Ingenuity Lab are already making significant strides in medicine, with an oral vaccination for influenza in the pipeline.

Speaking about a cure for Zika, scientists at Ingenuity Lab believe it could take years to create, as little is known about the virus and molecular tools are currently not available. They are working on developing molecular tools, including infectious clones, to better understand the biology of Zika and discover how it causes disease.

In the interim, they say that therapeutics to block mother-to-fetus transmission of the virus are key.

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