Mobile Diagnostic: FDA Authorizes Use of First Ebola Fingerstick Test with Portable Reader

Ebola Virus Sample from Mali
Ebola virus (green) on a cell in culture. The virus was isolated in November 2014 from patient blood samples obtained in Mali. Credit: NIAID.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on 9 Nov that an emergency use authorization (EUA) has been issued for a rapid, single-use test for the detection of Ebola virus ( Zaire ebolavirus ). This is the second Ebola rapid antigen fingerstick test available under EUA, but the first that uses a portable battery-operated reader, which can help provide clear diagnostic results outside of laboratories and in areas where patients are likely to be treated.

The test, called the DPP Ebola Antigen System, is used with blood specimens, including capillary “fingerstick” whole blood, from individuals with signs and symptoms of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in addition to other risk factors, such as living in an area with large numbers of EVD cases and/or having contact with other individuals exhibiting signs and symptoms of EVD.

“We are pleased to receive FDA Emergency Use Authorization for our DPP® Ebola System as we believe it will be a valuable tool to address the global threat posed by Ebola virus, including the ongoing outbreak in the DRC,” said John Sperzel, Chembio’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our patented DPP® technology continues to serve as a robust platform for the rapid detection of infectious diseases, and we hope to receive support and funding as we pursue additional regulatory approvals for our rapid Ebola test.”

The EUA is part of the FDA’s ongoing efforts to help mitigate potential, future threats by making medical products that have the potential to prevent, diagnosis or treat available as quickly as possible, noted FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D. “We’re committed to helping the people of the DRC effectively confront and end the current Ebola outbreak. By authorizing the first fingerstick test with a portable reader, we hope to better arm health care providers in the field to more quickly detect the virus in patients and improve patient outcomes.”

The FDA’s criteria for issuing an EUA for a diagnostic test includes making an assessment that it is reasonable to believe, based on the totality of evidence available to the agency, that the test may be effective and the known and potential benefits of using the test outweigh its known and potential risks.

The DPP Ebola Antigen System provides rapid diagnostic results with tests that can be performed in locations where a healthcare provider does not have access to authorized Ebola virus nucleic acid tests (PCR testing), which are highly sensitive but can only be performed in certain laboratory settings that are adequately equipped. The DPP Ebola Antigen System has been authorized for use with capillary “fingerstick” whole blood, ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA, an anticoagulant added to whole blood to prevent coagulation) venous whole blood and EDTA plasma. The DPP Ebola Antigen System should only be run in facilities, including treatment centers and public health clinics where patients are likely to be treated, and laboratories that are adequately equipped, trained and capable of such testing.

With the issuance of the EUA for the DPP Ebola Antigen System to Chembio Diagnostic Systems Inc., the FDA has now issued EUAs for nine nucleic acid tests and two rapid diagnostic tests for Ebola virus detection in human specimens.

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