The test, which is now available for purchase in the US, is the first molecular test to be cleared by the FDA for the qualitative detection and differentiation of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) and herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients suspected of HSV central nervous system (CNS) infection, including encephalitis.

The test uses a proprietary process that eliminates nucleic acid extraction, so clinicians can expect results within about an hour after providing a specimen for testing.

Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain often caused by the herpes simplex or other viruses. The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) recommends herpes simplex PCR testing on all CSF specimens in patients with encephalitis.

The moderate complexity categorization of the Simplexa HSV 1 and 2 Direct molecular test significantly broadens the potential clinical access to the technology.

Simplexa tests, designed for use on the 3M Integrated Cycler, employ real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology to detect DNA or RNA in viruses, bacteria, and other analytes. Simplexa HSV 1 and 2 Direct is intended to aid in the diagnosis of HSV central nervous system infection using CSF from patients suspected of HSV infections of the CNS.

Simplexa tests use a proprietary chemistry that eliminates the need for nucleic acid extraction, which involves purifying nucleic acids from a specimen. Nucleic acid extraction is an expensive and time-consuming process requiring specialized equipment and trained personnel.

Focus Diagnostics research and development vice president Dr Michelle Tabb noted that the nucleic acid extraction process, used in most commercial molecular test kits, can add approximately 60 to 90 minutes to the total time to result.

"Focus Diagnostics replaced the extraction process in its Simplexa products with a proprietary chemistry and technology. Simplexa HSV 1 & 2 Direct results, like those of other Simplexa Direct test products, are available in about an hour from receiving a specimen for testing. This is a major advantage when dealing with an acute neurological condition like encephalitis," Dr Tabb added.