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Assay Shows Promise for Rapid and Accurate HSV Detection

March 11, 2009

heat mapAs a scan of the scientific literature shows, today’s herpes tests certainly have their diagnostic strengths.  But all have their diagnostic weaknesses, too.  Most frequently cited are poor quantitative results, which make tracking a patient’s viral load over time difficult or impossible; inability to distinguish between cold sore-inducing HSV-1 and HSV-2, a common cause of genital herpes; and labor intensive protocols that make rapid testing of multiple patient samples wishful thinking. 

But as reported in the March issue of the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology, improvements could be on the way with an investigational system called LIPS.  It’s short for luciferase immunoprecipitation system, and this emerging technology has already proven extremely rapid, sensitive, and accurate at measuring antibody responses associated with various infectious agents, including HIV, hepatitis C virus, human T-cell leukemia virus type 1, and, now HSV-1 and HSV-2. 

Using plasma samples from patients known to be positive for HSV-1 and/or HSV-2, NIDCR scientists and colleagues found that LIPS was just as good – but much faster - at distinguishing between the viruses than Focus Plexus and Western blot immunoassays, the latter being the clinical gold standard.  Interestingly, LIPS also opened an unusually wide quantitative window.  The system detected antibody concentrations in HSV-2-infected samples that were over 1,000 times higher than in HSV-2 negative or HSV-1 positive samples.  Such a high signal may possibly allow for tracking of HSV disease progression and better monitoring of the effectiveness of treatment and future vaccines. 




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This page last updated: February 26, 2014