New technology enables effective simultaneous testing for multiple blood-borne pathogens

The emergence of new pathogens like West Nile Virus, Ebola, Dengue, and Zika, threaten human health on a global scale. Identification of these pathogens requires a rapid response from industry to develop new tests and the FDA to assess test safety and efficacy. A report in The Journal of Molecular Diagnostics evaluates the new OpenArray system that offers simultaneous detection of multiple viruses, bacteria, and protozoan pathogens in human blood samples. Investigators determined that this system is a promising tool for flexible, fast, and accurate blood screening.

Some highly virulent pathogens may have a low prevalence rate and/or be restricted seasonally or geographically. However, the impact of transfusion-transmitted infection of such agents can have fatal consequences, particularly in highly vulnerable populations such as newborns, the elderly, or immunocompromised individuals. The cost effectiveness of a multiple agent test means that more testing could be done, resulting in safer blood.

"All blood for transfusion must be tested for infectious agents. The increasing number of agents that may infect blood and the recognition that some of them only pose a risk in certain areas or certain times means that new methods to streamline blood testing must be developed. The major feature of our OpenArray device, the ability to test for multiple infectious agents at the same time, could be an answer to that need," explained Robert Duncan, PhD, an investigator with the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, Silver Spring, MD.

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