Filipino scientists develop quick test to detect dengue

KD Suarez

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New Biotek-M test kit for detecting dengue is developed at UP Manila; test can tell if patient has dengue or not within 1 hour

MANILA, Philippines – Filipino scientists have recently developed a way to detect dengue faster than current tests can, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) announced this week.

Scientists at the University of the Philippines Manila (UPM) have developed a rapid test kit for dengue, called the Biotek-M, which promises a speedier — and cheaper — method to check if a patient has dengue.

The DOST said the new method, developed by experts from the Institute of Molecular Biology & BiotechnologyNational Institutes of Health (IMBB-NIH), uses a variation of the usual Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology, the isothermal PCR method.

In the locally-developed technique, nucleic acid is extracted from the blood, added to the test kit, and observed for a change in color after an hour. Green would mean the patient has dengue, while orange would indicate the patient is clear of it, according to the DOST.

The new test gives doctors, hospitals, and patients another option to detect dengue fever. The other tests currently available in the market are the PCR test, the serological test, and the antigen detection test.

Viral disease

Dengue, according to the World Health Organization, is the most common mosquito-borne viral disease of humans, and is a major global public health concern.

Aside from helping patients get faster diagnosis, the Biotek-M test will also be a big help to doctors and hospitals because it will lower costs of tests, lessen hospital admissions of patients awaiting test results, and assist doctors in making better decisions.

The clinical validation of the research is in process, as part of regulatory compliance before the commercial release of the test kit, according to Dr Raul Destura, project lead and IMBB-NIH head.

At present, field tests are being done at the Rizal Medical Center, the National Children’s Hospital, and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center. Results, according to Destura are “promising.”

The development of Biotek-M was funded by the DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), part of the agency’s anti-dengue program. –

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