In the context of the Analytica 2016 Conference in April in Munich, Germany, MedicalExpo e-magazine came back on one of the biggest trends in the laboratory sector: the increasing use of rapid diagnostic tests at the point of care. Norman Moore, director of scientific affairs, infectious diseases at Alere answered our questions.
MedicalExpo e-mag: What is the purpose of the rapid tests?
Norman Moore: The purpose of these tests is to provide reliable and actionable information to healthcare professionals. Some of our tests are administered in doctors’ offices, thereby eliminating the need for the patient to go to the hospital. Other tests are used in hospitals to direct therapy or in emergency departments. Some tests are used to screen and others are used for confirmations.
ME e-mag: Do you use biomarkers for that? Could you explain how it works?
Norman Moore: Our tests rely on a variety of markers. In the case of cardiac disease, we look for biomarkers that get released into the bloodstream. In the case of many of our infectious disease tests, we can look for either the genetic information or antigens.
In some examples like HIV, we can bring the test out into the community to better link patients to proper care.
In the case of genetic information, we use Alere i to amplify the DNA and detect it in a matter of minutes. In the case of antigens, we can see them with antibodies in a variety of ways like lateral flow tests and enzyme assays. In some diseases like HIV, it becomes important to find the person’s own antibodies as a confirmation so we can use recombinant antigens to identify what antibodies are circulating in a person’s system.
ME e-mag: Can you do combinations of different tests?
Norman Moore: Yes. For example, we have a dual test for HIV and syphilis.
Moreover, we now know that most people that die of influenza actually die of complications—usually pneumonia. Alere has both pneumonia and influenza tests (they are separate tests). When it comes to enteric disease, there is a plethora of causes and Alere has quite a few tests to help direct therapy. In the case of Shiga toxin and enteric disease, it can become more important to test since some antibiotics can make the situation worse.
ME e-mag: Who is using these tests mainly?
Alere has a dual test for HIV and syphilis.
Norman Moore: Our tests are used by healthcare professionals and patients all over the world—both in developed and developing countries. First users depend on the test and where the patient need is greatest. In the hospitals, the majority of testing can be done by laboratory staff. However, since many are CLIA-waived, nurses can do testing as well. These tests can be done in urgent care settings as well as doctors’ offices. In some examples like HIV, we can bring the test out into the community to better link patients to proper care.
ME e-mag: Are you working on new tests and applications for the future?
Norman Moore: Yes. Rapid diagnostics at the point of care is a highly dynamic and fast-paced industry. As healthcare becomes increasingly decentralized, there is great opportunity for growth. We are continuously working on the development of new tests and applications.
Alere makes rapid tests for a large number of tests for:
- Infectious Diseases – HIV, tropical diseases (malaria, dengue), liver (hepatitis), respiratory (influenza, pneumonia, strep, RSV), healthcare associated infections (C. difficile), sexual health (chlamydia, gonorrhea)
- Cardiometabolic Diseases – HbA1c, lipids, anti-coagulation management, cardiac markers, blood gas analytes
- Toxicology – Alere toxicology tests for a number of different drugs in a variety of settings including workplace, government, pain management, hospitals and reference labs.