A point-of-care test for the Ebola virus is to be trialled at the Ebola treatment centre in Conakry, Guinea, which is one of six health research projects that have been jointly funded by the Wellcome Trust and the UK Government.
The new 15-minute Ebola test is said to be six times faster than current tests in use, and has been designed to accelerate the diagnosis of Ebola cases.
The project is supported through a joint Department for International Development (DFID) and Wellcome Trust fund, while six projects are managed by Enhancing Learning & Research for Humanitarian Assistance (ELRHA).
Conducted by researchers at the Pasteur Institute in Dakar, Senegal, the trial will be deployed using a mobile suitcase laboratory that is designed for low-resource settings.
The laboratory comprises solar panel, power pack and a results reader which is the size of a small laptop, and reagents used in the test are available as dried pellets.
The new test detects the genetic material of the virus, similarly to the tests currently in use.
According to Wellcome Trust, the pilot trial will test whether the reagents are safe and effective to use with Ebola patients’ blood and saliva samples.
Wellcome Trust international activities manager Dr Val Snewin said: "A reliable, 15-minute test that can confirm cases of Ebola would be a key tool for effective management of the Ebola outbreak – allowing patients to be identified, isolated and cared for as soon as possible.
"This pilot study is particularly promising because researchers have considered how to make the test suitable for use in remote field hospitals, where resources – such as electricity and cold storage – are often in short supply."
The funding is being provided for these projects from an existing £6.5m research initiative, Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC), which is jointly funded by DFID and the Wellcome Trust.
Image: Ebola virus. Photo: courtesy of Public Health Image Library (PHIL), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA.