Scientists are developing antibodies that can be used in a rapid Ebola detection test. It currently takes several days for a confirmed diagnosis, done by assaying for Ebola genetic material in the blood of a patient. Those tests take around one day, after the samples have arrived at a laboratory capable of performing the test.
A new rapid test would work easily, like those that already exist. The idea is that a blood sample is dabbed on paper containing molecules that can attach to viral particles and change color when they do so. The color change indicates the presence of the pathogen. However, current assays only work if the patient has been ill for days, explained immunologist Haley DeMers of the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine.
Better antibodies don't need so many disease particles before changing color, and could then detect the presence of disease while it's still possible to treat the patient. DeMers and colleagues used an antibody that attracts the disease particles, and then the viral particles migrate to a second antibody, where the color change takes place. The team of investigators tested over 1,000 candidate pairs of antibodies to find five great candidates, which they are now refining.