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A new test can detect avian influenza (bird flu) in 30 minutes from a throat swab specimen, a multinational team of researchers reports. Fast, accurate, and inexpensive, the new test would be invaluable in the event of an avian influenza pandemic.


The handheld testing device uses magnetic particles and magnets to concentrate virus contained in a sample. The concentrated sample then undergoes testing to identify the RNA of H5N1 bird flu.


Although the new test is as sensitive as other available tests to detect bird flu, researchers are trying to further refine it to distinguish bird flu from seasonal influenza. They also think they can adapt the test to screen for other viruses, including HIV, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), or hepatitis B.


Researchers say this test is about 4 times faster and 50 times cheaper than commercially available tests.




Pipper J, et al., Catching bird flu in a droplet, Nature Medicine online, September 23, 2007.