Abbott Unveils Rapid Diagnostic Test for Hepatitis B

Employees walk near an Abbott Laboratories sign at the company's headquarters complex in Abbott Park, Illinois.

American healthcare company, Abbott, has introduced what it considers the world’s most sensitive rapid diagnostic test for the detection of Hepatitis B surface antigen.

The diagnostic test known as DetermineTM HBsAg 2 test is for use with serum, plasma or whole blood.

The healthcare giant said in a statement this week that the highly sensitive, easy-to-use, rapid lateral flow test enables identification of those with the virus and facilitates linkage to care in every healthcare setting.

The Determine HBsAg 2 provides rapid and accurate results of one’s HBV status with an analytical sensitivity of 0.1 IU/mL.

The test is an in-vitro, visually read, qualitative immunoassay for the detection of HBsAg in serum, plasma or whole blood. It is deployable at the point of care and detects HBV in just 15 minutes, while the patient is still present. This allows for prompt treatment decisions and ultimately contributes to the reduction of the global epidemic.

Hepatitis B is a serious liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). For some people, hepatitis B infection becomes chronic and can lead to liver failure, liver cancer or cirrhosis of the liver, a condition that permanently scars the liver.

An estimated 257 million people worldwide were living with chronic HBV infection. While the global burden of this disease is significant, the rate of diagnosis is extremely low, at approximately 9 percent of all HBV-infected persons. Furthermore, among those diagnosed with HBV, only 8 percent actually received treatment.

In a global effort to reduce the current burden of disease, the World Health Organization (WHO) has set baseline targets to diagnose 30 percent of HBV-infected individuals by 2020 and 90 percent by 2030.

In order to reach these targets, rapid testing is imperative. Testing and diagnosis of HBV is the gateway for access to both prevention and treatment services and is a critical component of an effective response to the hepatitis.

Highly sensitivity tests such as the Determine HBsAg 2 allow people in these populations to be diagnosed quickly and accurately and linked to appropriate care, Abbott said.

The Determine HBsAg 2 is part of Abbott’s broader portfolio of life-changing technologies for hepatitis, which extends testing from the core laboratory to the point of care for people living in remote and underserved communities.

The test is now commercially available in Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific and Latin America.

It has already received CE Mark, a certification mark that indicates conformity with health, safety, and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area. Data has been submitted for WHO prequalification.

“Because HBV is severely underdiagnosed, it is crucial to regularly screen people and efficiently link those who test positive to specialist care and where indicated, antiviral medication,” said Patrick Kennedy, M.D., Reader and Consultant Hepatologist at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.

“Early diagnosis may support timely viral suppression, which reduces the risk for HBV-related complications,” he added.

Early identification of people with chronic HBV allows them to receive the necessary care and treatment to prevent or delay progression of liver disease. Testing also provides an opportunity for interventions that reduce transmission, through counselling on risk behaviors and provision of prevention products, such as sterile needles, and on vaccination.

“To achieve the WHO targets, 107 million HBV-infected people need to be urgently diagnosed, especially in highly endemic regions in Africa and Asia,” said Damian Halloran, the Vice President for Infectious Disease-Emerging Markets at Abbott.

“The unparalleled sensitivity, portability and ease-of-use of the Determine HBsAg 2 provides life-changing technology that can dramatically scale up testing services so more infected people can know their status and get treatment earlier.”

High sensitivity tests are important for certain populations, such as pregnant women, to reduce mother-to-child transmission, and for HIV-positive individuals, in which it may be difficult to detect HBV.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that Uganda is one of the countries with most affected by Hepatitis B.

About 3.5 million (10 percent of Uganda’s population) are living with chronic Hepatitis B infection. Highest infection rates are in Karamoja (23.9%), northern Uganda (20.7%), West Nile (18.5%) and western region (10.0%).

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