Orange, Calif. -- UC Irvine Health researchers have developed a cost-effective one-step test that screens, detects and confirms hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. Dr. Ke-Qin Hu, director of hepatology services, will present findings at the Annual Meeting of American Association for the Study of Liver Disease (AASLD) in San Francisco, Nov. 14-16. Current blood-based HCV testing requires two steps and can be expensive, inconvenient and is not widely available or affordable globally.
"Our novel HCV antigen test system has significantly improved sensitivity and specificity over current tests. Importantly, for the first time, we can use urine specimens for one-step screening and diagnosing of HCV infection," said Hu, professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at UC Irvine School of Medicine. "Finding a more convenient, easy-to-use and cost-effective screening alternative is imperative, because HCV is significantly under-screened and under-diagnosed."
Although the current HCV screening test is specific and sensitive, it cannot distinguish active infection from a previous infection. A blood sample is required, and two steps are required. First, virus-specific antibodies must be detected in the blood. Then, the sensitive HCV RNA PCR test must be administered to confirm whether or not the infection is active. Hu said many developing countries are not equipped to administer the two-step test, especially the HCV RNA PCR test. In the U.S., its cost is above $200. The novel HCV antigen test system developed by Hu's UC Irvine lab could significantly reduce the cost, human resources and time required for the test results.
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