Although researchers are able to quickly study pathogens due to new technologies, further advancements are needed in order to better predict and analyze emerging diseases. In February, Zika outbreaks were reported in North and South America, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to announce a public health emergency. Thanks to their rapid research and analysis of the Zika strain through sequencing, scientists were able to create an RNA test that would detect the virus. Sequencing was instrumental in viral diagnosis in the Zika outbreak, and it can also help in predicting future outbreaks. However, regulatory approval and commercialization of diagnostic tests is a challenge for public health officials. Moreover, although the CDC and FDA used particular sample tests for detection and diagnosis of Zika (such as rRT-PCR of blood samples and the authorization of the Zika MAC-ELISA, respectively), the methods cannot keep up with the constantly mutating virus. Because of this, the diagnostic tests are constantly evolving through further research, with the FDA approving a clinical trial for a potential Zika vaccine in June.

Source: Clinical Laboratory News

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