2011

Rapid Detection of the Varicella Zoster Virus in Saliva

This kit provides a rapid, sensitive, specific, and inexpensive method for early virus detection.

Varicella zoster virus (VZV) causes chicken pox on first exposure (usually in children), and reactivates from latency causing shingles (usually in adults). Shingles can be extremely painful, causing nerve damage, organ damage, and blindness in some cases. The virus can be life-threatening in immune-compromised individuals. The virus is very difficult to culture for diagnosis, requiring a week or longer.

This invention is a rapid test for VZV from a saliva sample and can be performed in a doctor’s office. The kit is small, compact, and lightweight. Detec tion is sensitive, specific, and noninvasive (no needles); only a saliva sample is required. The test provides results in minutes. The entire test is performed in a closed system, with no exposure to infectious materials. The components are made mostly of inexpensive plastic injection molded parts, many of which can be purchased off the shelf and merely assembled. All biological waste is contained for fast, efficient disposal.

This innovation was made possible because of discovery of a NASA scientists’ flight experiment showing the presence of VZV in saliva during high stress periods and disease. This finding enables clinicians to quickly screen patients for VZV and treat the ones that show positive results with antiviral medicines. This promotes a rapid recovery, easing of pain and symptoms, and reduces chances of complications from zoster.

Screening of high-risk patients could be incorporated as part of a regular physical exam. These patients include the elderly, pregnant women, and immune-compromised individuals. In these patients, VZV can be a life-threatening disease. In both high- and low-risk patients, early detection and treatment with antiviral drugs can dramatically decrease or even eliminate the clinical manifestation of disease.

This work was done by Duane L. Pierson of Johnson Space Center; Satish K. Mehta of EASI; Randall J. Cohrs and Don H. Gilden of the University of Colorado Health Science Center; and Robert E. Harding, independent consultant. Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to David Poticha at the University of Colorado, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. MSC-24451-1