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Published On: Sat, May 11th, 2013

New PCR test for avian influenza H7N9 virus developed: AACC

In what is being called breaking research, a team from the University of Hong Kong say they developed a diagnostic test can detect the new strain of influenza (H7N9) currently causing an outbreak in China, according to an American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) news release Friday.

The research is published in the journal, Clinical Chemistry.

Under a high magnification, this negatively-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) captured some of the ultrastructural details exhibited by the new influenza A (H7N9) virus. Image/CDC

Under a high magnification, this negatively-stained transmission electron micrograph (TEM) captured some of the ultrastructural details exhibited by the new influenza A (H7N9) virus.
Image/CDC

In this study by the team led by researchers from the Centre of Influenza Research and School of Public Health, LKS Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong  designed a diagnostic test with high specificity for the H7N9 virus that does not cross react with distantly related viruses, including all previously known avian and mammalian H7 viruses. They also show that this one-step quantitative real-time PCR assay enables specimen processing in about 3 hours.

According to the authors, this new test should also detect viruses closely related to the H7N9 virus. If confirmed, this capability could prove vital; it’s likely that the H7N9 virus is evolving rapidly, and there could be multiple introductions of avian H7N9 viruses from animals to humans. The test also demonstrates a detection limit of ~0.04 median tissue culture infective dose (TCID50) per reaction. This means that it should be sensitive enough to identify patients with active virus replications.

“These results suggest that the established assay should be suitable for screening H7N9 viruses in human samples,” said lead investigator Leo Poon, PhD, of the University of Hong Kong, though additional evaluation using clinical specimens from H7N9 patients is needed.

If validated, this diagnostic test could help health officials avert a potential pandemic by allowing them to monitor the spread of the virus. The test could also identify H7N9 patients in the early stages of infection, improving their chances of responding to clinical treatments.

Listen to a podcast of the paper

According to the latest World Health Organization update on the outbreak on May 8, there have been 131 confirmed cases of human  avian influenza A(H7N9), resulting in 32 fatalities.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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  1. Dr David Hill says:

    In 2008 Nature Magazine published an article to defame and put into as a negative mind-set as they could, the World Innovation Foundation. This was because Professor Shortridge was giving his first world keynote conference address in Thailand that outlined the ‘Source’ Strategy that did not require tens of billions in drug sales. It was the ‘preventative’ strategy and based on the premise of ‘never letting it happen in the first place’, instead of trying to cure something when it had infected humans (the reactive strategy. For history has always shown that ‘prevention is better than cure’ so why is it that we have not taken this on-board with regard to stopping the most deadly killer of humans of all time? The answer is that the powerful drug companies and their research scientists in the Netherlands did not want Professor Shortridge’s strategy to emerge, so they employed Nature magazine to do their dirty work; and which they did and killed off the only strategy that had worked in 1997 in Hong Kong.

    Indeed Nature Magazine was so precise with when they wanted to publish the damning article which was on the very same day as the international conference was held in Thailand in January 2008. This was timed of course to do as much damage as they could and to stop such an alternative global strategy taking hold – even thought it had worked before (without the use of human drugs). The reason, the large pharmaceutical companies and their research scientists knew that if it was allowed to be implemented worldwide, it would stop the tens of billions in sales of their drugs (Tamiflu and their future drug equivalents against avian flu et al). Therefore these were very high stakes for the giant pharmaceutical industry and they wanted it dead in the ground.

    Indeed one cannot trust these monopolies and huge cartels that dictate to governments and not the other way around. For there are many of reasons for this that go back decades and where only in the last 4-years they have been fined for ‘fraud’ on a colossal scale and fines amounting to over $13 billion. Indeed Nature Magazine’s holding company has its ‘roots’ in the Nazi era and where their founders were active Nazi members becoming extremely rich out of slave labour and Nazi propaganda printing. Therefore both Nature Magazine’s owners and the giant pharmaceutical companies have a great deal in common – http://foolscrow.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/return-to-nuremberg-big-pharma-must-answer-for-crimes-against-humanity/ .

    http://www.nytimes.com/2002/10/14/business/another-german-publisher-mulls-its-wartime-past.html

    http://www.atlantic-times.com/archive_detail.php?recordID=1646

    http://www.questia.com/library/1G1-93104878/macmillan-owner-looks-into-nazi-links

    Unfortunately it has to be said that Nature’s owners have not learnt one lesson at all since the holocaust (apparently because of their worship of profit above human life itself) and where this time ten times more deaths will occur by them stopping the Shortridge ‘Source’ Strategy (the only one that has stopped the human-to-human killer virus in its tracks), than happened in both world wars put together.

    Since the Nature article the majority of WIF Fellows who were covertly interviewed by Nature Magazine have apologised when they found out the real purpose of the article. Indeed people like Ian Pearson, former chief futurologist at BT and inventor of text messaging, are still Fellows of our Foundation and where none of those cited have resigned their fellowships.

    It is about time therefore that governments around the world changed their thinking on how to stop the eventual killer pandemic and adopted the only thing that will stop the deaths of countless millions when it does happen. For statistics and recent history has shown that vaccines will ‘always’ come far too late due to the lead time needed for research isolation, vaccine discovery, government authorisation, mass manufacture and global distribution (a logistics nightmare in itself as most are manufactured in the USA). Are we therefore so stupid if we do not realise this in time, is the question? For no person from the president of the USA downwards or country is safe from this constant and statistically overdue event in the history of the world. Indeed, next time will be the greatest mass killer of all time by far and all of us will lose many loved ones.

    It is time therefore that the world woke up, used its intelligence, did not take the word of the giant parametrical industry (for its own sake), realised that our current thinking is absolutely and totally flawed.

    Dr David Hill
    Chief Executive
    World Innovation Foundation

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