March 16, 2012
Researchers from the American University in Cairo announced Wednesday they have developed a new test for hepatitis C virus (HCV), which affects roughly 10 million Egyptians.
The diagnostic test is liquid-based and uses gold nanoparticles, university officials said. It reduces "the two-step testing process carried out over a number of days to a one-step process that takes less than an hour ... at a fraction of the cost of traditional diagnostic protocols."
"Our test is sensitive and inexpensive, and it does not need sophisticated equipment," said Hassan Azzazy, a professor of chemistry who led the research team.
According to the World Health Organization, Egypt has one of the highest HCV prevalence rates in the world, with some 20 percent of blood donors testing positive for the blood-borne virus. Each year, the country logs about 500,000 new HCV cases, the university said.
"Little is done on the national level to combat the alarming prevalence of hepatitis C in Egypt," said Azzazy. "Detecting HCV during the first six months raises the recovery rate to 90 percent," he said.