Feb. 2, 2016 PositiveID Corp. (OTCQB:PSID) has partnered with GenArraytion, Inc. who recently announced the development of the first commercially available polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based molecular test to identify the Zika virus, a fever-causing disease transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito. The Zika virus test works with an existing GenArraytion MultiFLEX™ Bioassay panel that targets viruses that cause dengue fever, yellow fever and Chikungunya, which are also carried by this mosquito and are known to cause febrile disease in humans. The Aedes Aegypti MultiFLEX™Bioassay test is designed to work on bead-based endpoint instruments and real-time PCR platforms, such as Positive ID’s, Firefly DX. The test targets four genetic regions of the Zika virus, making detection possible even if the virus mutates in the future. MultiFLEX™ molecular assays help health officials identify infectious diseases in panels with up to 20 genetic markers, for fever-causing and vector-borne disease organisms of concern.
PositiveID’s Firefly Dx is a hand-held unit designed to analyze biological samples and deliver molecular diagnostic results in less than 30 minutes. The portable nature of the Firefly Dx enables health care officials working in the field to accurately test and diagnose individuals on-the-spot. The rapid response of the Firefly Dx could allow officials to quickly assess a population’s exposure and enact measures to contain and prevent further spread of the infectious disease. To date, Firefly has demonstrated the ability to detect and identify many pathogens and diseases including, Ebola, measles, seasonal and avian flu, E. coli, and methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (“MRSA”). With the use of GenArrayation Inc.’s assays in the future, Firefly Dx may also detect Zika, dengue fever, yellow fever, and Chikungunya.
The UN health body reported Monday an influx of cases in South America of microcephaly — a devastating condition in which a baby is born with an abnormally small head and brain – which was likely caused by the mosquito-borne Zika virus, and declared the situation a “public health emergency of international concern.” The WHO (World Health Organization) is under pressure to move swiftly to tackle Zika, after admitting it was slow to respond to the recent Ebola outbreak that ravaged parts of West Africa. WHO director, Anthony Costello, a pediatrician and expert on microcephaly, told reporters in Geneva that the WHO’s new response unit would aim to use “all the lessons we’ve learned from the Ebola crisis” to help quickly address Zika and the birth defects and neurological conditions it is believed to cause. He emphasized the urgency of rapid action, stressing there was no reason to believe the crisis would remain limited to South America, where 25 countries so far have reported Zika cases. Brazil, one South America’s hardest hit countries, is preparing to host the Summer Olympics in August, causing further concern. Rapid detection is a key component of eradicating the Zika virus. Currently there is no vaccine or treatment available; identifying and exterminating infected mosquito populations is key.
PositiveID’s Firefly Dx armed with GenArraytion’s Aedes Aegypti MultiFLEX™ Bioassay could be pivotal in streamlining the diagnostic process and minimizing further exposure of Zika to populations due to the point-of-need capabilities of the device. Firefly Dx is designed to be battery-operated, transported directly into a hot zone by local personnel, and require minimal instruction and training. The design is expected to be both affordable and disposable, making it accessible to many markets.