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Development and validation of a microarray based automated diagnostic system for the detection of influenza virus types and subtypes at point-of-care (Fluarray)
Start date: Jan 1, 2008, End date: Jun 30, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Influenza is an extremely contagious infection that is caused by distinct virus types and subtypes. Early diagnosis is crucial for disease treatment and control as it reduces the inappropriate use of antibiotics and provides the indication for antiviral therapy. Rapid diagnosis is also a key component of surveillance activity. This requires the ability to detect and accurately diagnose infection at or close to the source/outbreak with minimum delay, a tactic consistent with the global experience during the SARS epidemic in 2003. This experience underlines the need for specific, sensitive point-of-care testing capable of discriminating between influenza subtypes. None of the available influenza diagnostic assays combines a point-of-care format with the multiplex capability to identify a large repertoire of human and animal viruses. This project exploits the knowledge and the expertise of the partners to convert microarray assays, that have a powerful multiplex capability but are laborious, complex and expensive to perform, into a simple, robust and affordable automated point-of-care system for the diagnosis of influenza. The system will utilize three components: 1) a microarray immunoassay that distinguishes influenza A and B virus as well as A subtypes; 2) an innovative self-contained disposable lateral-flow device that allows the addition of specimens and reagents in a temporally-controlled manner; 3) a robust automated processing reading instrument of novel conception that employs a low cost, high performance optical module. This project will provide small laboratories, health offices, veterinary clinics and outposts (airports) with the diagnostic capability of major research institutions and reference centres, thus providing better care for patients and most importantly, facilitating the implementation of surveillance activities and guiding response measures that are being built to face a possible influenza pandemic caused by a highly virulent virus.
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