The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new test developed at McMaster University, which may make the diagnosis of a nasty cough a lot easier.
The new test detects the most prevalent respiratory viruses such as flu and the common cold, and, thus, may make it easier for doctors to diagnose patients accurately.
McMaster virologist Dr. James Mahony, who developed the xTAG Respiratory Viral Panel (RVP) in conjunction with a company called Luminex Molecular Diagnostics, says that the new test detects most common respiratory viruses in a few hours.
He says that the speed and reliability of xTAG RVP will help physicians provide appropriate treatment, and prevent inappropriate antibiotic use that has contributed to the creation of "superbugs".
"Respiratory viruses affect millions of people each year and can lead to serious complications such as bacterial super infections and pneumonia. The RVP test allows healthcare providers to more rapidly and accurately detect infected patients and take appropriate measures to treat and reduce the spread of the disease," said Mahony, who is the director of the McMaster University Regional Virology and Chlamydiology Laboratory at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton and is a professor in the Department of Pathology and Molecular Medicine at McMaster.
Among the 12 viruses and viral subtypes that xTAG RVP can help detect are influenza A, influenza A-H1, influenza A-H3, influenza B, Adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) A and B, metapneumovirus, parainfluenza 1, 2, and 3, and rhinovirus.
The test is also CE certified to detect and identify 20 viruses and viral subtypes in Europe, adding eight viruses and subtypes including SARS and influenza A H5 (the subtype associated with avian influenza).
Luminex Molecular Diagnostics is now trying to get the panel approved for use for patient use in Canada, although it is already available for investigational use.
The company collaborated with McMaster University for the development of the test panel in May 2005.
After being created and validated at McMaster, the prototype was further developed and commercially launched by Luminex.
"It's rewarding to see a McMaster technology enter the marketplace in a way that will directly improve the treatment of patients," Elsie Quaite-Randall, executive director of the McMaster Industry Liaison Office (MILO).
"This is a great example of a win-win collaboration that transformed great research into a product that benefits patients," Quaite-Randall added.