Harvard scientists develop simple Zika test that yields results in a couple of hours

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BOSTON- Local researchers have developed a new test that could make getting a Zika diagnosis as simple as it can be, requiring just paper and a few dollars.

Doctor James Collins and a team of researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and other institutions first developed a version of the test during the Ebola crisis.

According to Dr. Collins, "[the test] could be used in a doctor's office or in an under-resourced lab in a developing world country ... In this case, [the test] gives you an output anywhere from 90 minutes to two and half hours after you have collected the sample."

Dr. Collins said other tests can take days or weeks to yield results, and those results can be confused with other illnesses.

- A blood sample is collected and boiled down
- The sample is then amplified in a small device and spotted on paper
- The paper is placed in a black cartridge
- Areas that turn purple indicate samples infected with Zika
- Yellow areas indicate samples that show no signs of Zika

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Doctors say there is an immediate need for faster results. According to numbers FOX25 obtained from the CDC, there are now 756 confirmed cases of Zika in the United States, with 27 of the cases found in Massachusetts.

Doctor Collins said the test only costs a couple of dollars, and he hopes it can eventually be used to detect a number of other illnesses, such as HIV, HPV, Lyme disease and cancer.

A version of the test could be used in your doctor's office or even found over the counter. Dr. Collins said he envisions his test being used at home for less serious illnesses, like the flu or strep.

The test still needs FDA approval in the United States.

For more stories go to fox25boston.com

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