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Rapid Diagnostic Test Invention of Liberian-American Scientist Published in Nature

The rapid multiplex diagnostic test Invention of a US-Liberian infectious disease scientist, Dr. Dougbeh Chris Nyan’s, has been published in Nature Scientific Reports, an international peer-reviewed biomedical journal of the Nature Publishing Group. The invention is a portable rapid infectious diseases diagnostic system that detects and identifies multiple viruses in less than an hour. Announced earlier this year, Dr. Nyan’s invention addresses the need for speedy detection and identification of different viruses and for containing the spread of these infectious diseases in both developing and developed countries. The test simultaneously detects and identifies up to 7 or more different viruses, including HIV/AIDS, Dengue virus, Hepatitis viruses, Ebola, and West Nile virus that are common in Africa, Asia, and in the Americas. With the recent emergence of new cases of Ebola infection in Liberia, medical field workers could benefit from the Nyan-Test when produced. In the current Nature publication, Dr. Nyan and his research assistant, Mr. Kevin Swinson, reported their findings on simultaneous detection and identification of 6 medically important viruses. “In the next publication we will report on other pathogens such as Ebola, Chikungunya virus, Plasmodium (malaria), Leshmania, SARS, Trypanosoma, and Tuberculosis infection” said Dr. Nyan, a scientist in the US who is originally from Africa, the Republic of Liberia.

Earlier this year the world witnessed a severe global threat, as infection with the Ebola virus disease spread from Guinea in December 2013 to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Spain, United States of America, United Kingdom, Senegal, and Nigeria within 6 months. The lack of a rapid diagnostic test for Ebola virus was one of several challenges encountered by health care workers during the outbreak. “We are hopeful that this test will offer health care providers the ability to quickly detect and distinguish, for example, Ebola and Malaria infections which present similar clinical symptoms at the onset of infection and help in prompt clinical decision on specific treatment modalities”.

Asked when the test kits of his invention will be available, Dr. Nyan responded that “first, we have filed patent protections on our technology to protect our intellectual property and we are now seeking funding and collaborative partnership with institutions (such as the WHO, ECOWAS, Africa Union, US Department of Health), with philanthropists, and with private investors anywhere in the world so as to produce the diagnostic kits”. He further added that, “we want to ensure that simple-to-use and fast infectious pathogens diagnostic kits are accessible and affordable wherever they are needed anywhere in the world, particularly for the poorer countries and communities; I pray that this will contribute to ensuring global public health safety and also contribute to mitigating cross border transmission of infectious diseases and epidemics”, Dr. Nyan said.

The entry of this new diagnostic test into the health care arena is expected to impact diagnostics. According to Dr. Nyan’s Nature publication, the rapid multiplex diagnostic test is sensitive, specific, portable and simple to use. The test is of high quality and priced to be affordable than its competitors, while “serving humanity and addressing global health security”, he added.

Dr. Nyan’s research team plans to conduct field studies of the diagnostic test in Africa, Asia, and South America. When asked about what he made of the new Ebola cases in Liberia and Sierra Leone being declared Ebola free, the NIH and German-trained infectious disease specialist commented that, “we must be reminded of the epidemiological history of the Ebola virus; the virus (Ebola) seems to take permanent residence wherever it strikes; I would strongly urge these Ebola-affected countries to institute sustainable infectious disease control and prevention programs and technical collaboration”. In September 2014, Dr. Nyan, testified to US House Committee on Ebola and proposed the establishment of regional Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Africa.

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