Jian Han, M.D., Ph.D., faculty investigator with the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, is working to develop a fast, highly accurate diagnostic assay to address the alarming number of swine influenza cases.
According to the World Health Organization, 40 cases of swine flu have been confirmed in the U.S. Swine flu is a contagious respiratory disease that affects pigs and is caused by a type-A influenza virus. Outbreaks in pigs occur year-round. The current strain is a new variation of an H1N1 virus, which is a mix of human and animal versions. It has spread from Mexico to the U.S. and Canada, and as far away as New Zealand.
Han is well practiced in diagnostics to address illnesses with pandemic potential. During the SARS outbreak in China earlier this decade, Han deployed a technology that allowed multiple infection targets to be detected in a single test, thus speeding an accurate diagnosis and hastening treatments. Results were available in a matter of hours. A series of products was developed and commercialized. The test developed by Han continues to be used by Chinese health officials.
In regard to swine flu, Han noted, “More than 90 percent of the patients who rush to an emergency room may have something other than the flu.” A test that can quickly confirm the presence or absence of the pathogen would lessen the stress on our healthcare system, he added.
HudsonAlpha will work with Diatherix Laboratories to quickly deliver a diagnostic product to hospitals and people in need.