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NIAID sponsors research to develop methods that will more quickly and accurately detect West Nile Virus (WNV) in humans, animals, and mosquitoes. NIAID has awarded Small Business Innovation Research grants to small biotechnology companies to support development of new diagnostic tests for WNV. At least one such test under development shows promise for more accurate diagnosis of WNV in people and animals. NIAID also funds academic investigators to develop improved tests to detect WNV and WNV antibodies in people, animals, and mosquitoes, as well as in blood and organ donations.

In December 2006, Spectral Diagnostics Inc., of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, received marketing approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for clinical use of its breakthrough rapid diagnostic test for WNV. This test, called the RapidWN Test, is the first test that can be used by clinicians to diagnose WNV infection in less thanĀ 1 hour. Although not supported by NIAID in the development stage, the test represents a major advance for clinicians who evaluate and treat patients with presumptive WNV infection, as results are available in only 15 minutes. The test has been available in the United States since July 2007 and is distributed by Fisher Healthcare. Other commercial tests include the first FDA-approved WNV diagnostic test, the West Nile Virus IgM Capture ELISA, manufactured by PanBio Ltd., of Windsor, Australia. This test has been available in the United States since 2003; results can be obtained in 2 hours.

Last Updated April 03, 2008