Redeemer’s University develops Lassa fever test-kit

FEBRUARY 7, 2016.

Ikenna Asomba 

Redeemer’s University, Osun State, has developed a test kit known as Pan-Lassa Rapid Diagnostics Test (PL RDT), that enables the testing of urine, faeces and blood samples of humans or multimamelar rats for Lassa fever in 10 minutes.

The Vice Chancellor of RUN, Professor Debo Adeyewa, said the university made new discoveries when Ebola was raging and now also made new discovery on Lassa fever virus.

 Explaining the research breakthrough, Prof. Christian Happi, who was a member of a team that performed the first Lassa fever Positive Reverse Transcription (PCR) diagnosis in Nigeria in 2008, 39 years after it was discovered in the city of Lassa in 1969, said: “In 2014, we developed and tested the first generation of Lassa fever rapid diagnostics test (RDT). Although, the test showed great potential in the field, its sensitivity was low compared to the gold standard, Positive Reverse Transcription (PCR), because the test could not pick up all the three lineages of the Lassa virus circulating in Nigeria. We went back to work to improve on the RDTs, and in January 2016, we successfully developed a Pan-Lassa fever test that is highly sensitive and specific.”

According to the don, the Lassa fever virus originated from present day Nigeria, 1,060 years ago and spread out of Nigeria 400 years ago to other West African countries. “A comparison between the Lassa fever and Ebola viruses showed that Lassa fever is less adapted and efficient for human-to-human transmission unlike the Ebola virus, pointing out the fact why Lassa fever outbreaks are less disastrous than Ebola,” he added

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