New accurate diagnostic test for swine H1N1 influenza using RT-PCR technology

New Rochelle, NY, June 9, 2009?A new, easy-to-perform method for detecting both seasonal influenza A virus and the emerging H1N1 swine-derived influenza A virus in human clinical samples offers a fast, sensitive, and cost-effective diagnostic test that runs on standard laboratory equipment. This timely and broadly applicable molecular technique is described in an article published online ahead of print in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com). The article is available free online at www.liebertpub.com/vbz

The recent emergence and global spread of a new swine flu virus highlights the urgent need for a reliable diagnostic test that can discriminate the H1N1 influenza virus from other strains and can be readily implemented in clinical testing laboratories. The molecular strategy described in the article in Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases is based on proven and widely used Real-Time, Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) technology. The authors of the report entitled “A Simple Method for Molecular Detection of Swine-Origin and Human-Origin Influenza A Virus” describe the development of a new molecular probe that improves on the existing PCR assay used to diagnose seasonal influenza and enables detection of both the seasonal and H1N1 influenza A viruses in the same patient sample using a simple test protocol. Laetitia Ninove and colleagues from Université de la Méditerranée and Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (Marseille, France), Hôpitaux de Marseille, CEH Oxford (UK), and EHESP School of Public Health (Rennes, France) provide data to support the sensitivity and effectiveness of the SYBR Green RT-PCR one-step assay used for screening clinical samples to detect the presence of influenza A virus. In positive samples this is followed by the addition of two probes that are able to discriminate between the seasonal and swine H1N1 viruses to yield a definitive diagnosis.

Early, accurate identification of infected individuals will expedite appropriate antiviral therapy and enhance control and containment efforts. Furthermore, this new molecular test specifically amplifies and characterizes the viral genetic material, enabling rapid detection of new viral strains as they evolve. Using these genetic sequence data and making minor alterations to the PCR primers used in the assay, the test could be easily modified to detect newly emerging viral variants, including avian influenza strains.

“Early recognition of new influenza strains is vitally important for implementing effective control measures to limit spread. This cost-effective, comprehensive, and rapid test is a highly significant contribution to diagnostics that will greatly enhance our capacity to deal with future influenza outbreaks,” says Stephen Higgs BSc, PhD, FRES, Editor-in-Chief of Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases, and Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, Center for Biodefense & Emerging Infectious Diseases, Sealy Center for Vaccine Development and WHO Collaborating Center for Tropical Diseases, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston.

Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published bimonthly in print and online dedicated to diseases transmitted to humans by insects or animals. The Journal covers a widespread group of vector and zoonotic-borne diseases including bacterial, chlamydial, rickettsial, viral, and parasitic zoonoses and provides a unique platform for basic and applied disease research. The Journal also examines geographic, seasonal, and other risk factors that influence the transmission, diagnosis, management, and prevention of zoonotic diseases that pose a threat to public health worldwide. Vector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases is the official journal of SocZEE, the Society for Zoonotic Ecology and Epidemiology. Tables of contents and a free sample issue may be viewed online at www.liebertpub.com/vbz

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. (www.liebertpub.com) is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Viral Immunology, Biosecurity and Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, and Science, and Microbial Drug Resistance. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 60 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available at www.liebertpub.com

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. 140 Huguenot St., New Rochelle, NY 10801-5215 www.liebertpub.com

Phone: (914) 740-2100 (800) M-LIEBERT Fax: (914) 740-2101

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