Tanaka Holdings develops world’s first ZIKA virus detection kit

Tanaka Holdings develops world’s first ZIKA virus detection kit

5:14 AM, 9th June 2016
Tanaka Holdings develops world’s first ZIKA virus detection kit
Demonstration of testing, on the left is a negative and on the right a positive reaction. When the virus is detected, two lines appear.

TOKYO, JAPAN: Tanaka Holdings Co Ltd, a holding company of Tanaka Precious Metals has developed the world’s first kit able to directly detect the Zika virus (ZIKV) in blood. The kit is capable of rapid Zikv detection in just 10 to15 minutes. Tanaka plans to supply samples for clinical evaluation with a view to collaboration with domestic and overseas medical manufacturers.

Characteristics of detection kit

  • By making it possible for the first time to directly detect ZIKV in blood by immunochromatographic assay.

It is an analytical method enabling visual determination of the concentration of a target molecule is above or below a specified threshold of concentration by reacting coloured- particle labelled antibodies immobilized on the test strip with a liquid sample which is drawn into the test strip by capillary action. The new kit uses as its labelling dye nano-colloidal gold, which turns red.

By applying its unique antibody screening technology and nano-colloidal gold Tanaka has developed the new kit using antibodies to nonstructural protein in ZIKV, allowing ZIKV to be detected at a concentration. This detection performance equals the sensitivity of other immunochromatographic assay-based test kits for influenza and other pathogens.

  • The kit realizes simpler, faster and lower cost detection than existing methods.

The existing method used for detecting ZIKV in blood is polymerase chain reaction (PCR), an analytical technique which involves the amplification of a single or few copies of a piece of DNA to generate thousands to millions copies of a particular DNA sequence through an enzymatic assembling of the nucleotides.

This PCR requires special equipment and takes between half a day and one day to complete. With the new kit, however, the test strip only needs to be dipped into the test sample to enable ZIKV detection. Additionally, it allows detection in 10 to 15 minutes, equalling the simplicity and speed of the influenza virus detection kit already in practical application. Furthermore, unlike PCR, it does not require special equipment, thus realizing cost savings for users.

Background to development of detection kit

ZIKV infection has been spreading since 2015, particularly in Brazil. Infected people develop commonly Zika fever, with symptoms of fever and conjunctival congestion. If pregnant women become infected with ZIKV, there are indications that the fetus may develop microcephaly, which is an abnormal smallness of the head, a congenital condition associated with incomplete brain development.

As the possibility has been indicated of infection not only through mosquitoes, but also through blood transfusions and sexual contact, a kit is required which can perform direct and specific detection in the early stage after infection using a fast and simple method.

The simple ZIKV detection kit that is currently commercially available detects the antibodies to ZIKV (immunoglobulin G and immunoglobulin M) that are producted in the bodies of infected humans, and is therefore not suited to diagnosing Zika fever in the initial stage of infection. In order to make possible early identification of ZIKV infection, Tanaka applied its store of technology, its unique antibody screening technology, and the nano-colloidal gold manufacturing technologies which it has accumulated over many years to develop a kit capable of direct detection of the virus itself. It is hoped that the development of the new kit will be highly effective in suppressing the spread of ZIKV infection.

Future rollout

With the aim of contributing to suppressing the future spread of ZIKV, Tanaka envisages targeting supply to Central and South America and Southeast Asia, areas thought to be particularly at risk of infection spread. To this end, it plans to supply samples for clinical evaluation with a view to building partnerships with domestic and overseas medical manufacturers.

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