China develops 15-minute MERS test

Beijing, June 19 (IANS) A diagnostic reagent that can complete a test for MERS in just 15 minutes has been developed in China.

Research on the reagent began in late 2014. The reagent was put together by Hong Kong and Xiamen universities and will be used in virus screening if the disease ever breaks out in China, Xinhua news agency reported on Friday.

The reagent employs antigen diagnostics, which are easier to use than traditional nucleic acid diagnostics.

“The antigen diagnostics are much easier to work with,” said Zhang Jun, an infectious disease expert at Xiamen University. “In contrast, nucleic acid diagnostics involve extracting RNA, which is time consuming and requires experienced technicians and specialized equipment.”

The new reagent is efficient and can be used for a large number of tests. A single technician can process over 1,000 samples a day.

First identified in 2012, MERS has recently reappeared in the Republic of Korea. At least 24 people have died and 166 infections have been detected there as of Friday.

The scientists’ findings were first published in April in the journal Emerging Microbes & Infections.

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