Rapid test kit able to identify gum disease bacteria in 6 minutes

12/04/2020 08:21 PM
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CNA photo Dec. 4, 2020
CNA photo Dec. 4, 2020

Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) Taiwanese researchers have developed a rapid test kit that can shorten the time needed to identify the bacteria behind periodontal disease from two weeks to six minutes, and it could be available commercially within a few years.

The state-of-the-art rapid test kit, unveiled on Friday, was developed through the collaboration of the Taiwan Instrument Research Institute under the National Applied Research Laboratories (NARLabs), National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), and Taiwan Advance Bio-Pharmaceutical Inc. (TABP).

At a press conference in Taipei, NCKU and TABP signed a technology transfer agreement that authorizes TABP to commercialize the rapid test kit.

TABP Chairman Su Wen-lung (蘇文龍) said the company will work to get the new product certified as soon as possible so that it can be on the market within two to three years.

According to a statement released by the NARLabs Taiwan Instrument Research Institute, the fast test kit has been used in more than 600 cases in human trials at NCKU Hospital in Tainan over the past three months.

Because of the trial's positive results, TABP agreed to sign the NT$8 million (US$283,000) technology transfer deal, and the university hoped the kit can soon be used for clinical diagnoses to help patients and find success in the global market, the statement said.

Listed by the World Health Organization as a chronic disease affecting human health, periodontal diseases pose a hazard that goes far beyond tooth loss.

They can also cause systematic diseases due to the spread of periodontal bacteria to the entire body, heightening the importance of efficient precautions and post-treatment follow-ups, the statement said.

At present, identifying the bacteria behind the disease relies on X-ray checks, the probing of pockets in the gums, and bacteria cultivation, procedures that require time and money and are not available at small dental clinics.

Working with NCKU dentists, the research team headed by NCKU associate professor Wu Ping-ching (吳炳慶) developed a rapid test kit that quickly identifies bacteria collected in samples from the gums.

The kit relies on "aptamers" -- oligonucleotide or peptide molecules that bind to a specific target -- and a highly sensitive reagent to identify periodontal disease bacteria rapidly and precisely.

Wu's team has acquired a patent for the new kit in Taiwan and the United States, the statement said.

NCKU Hospital resident physician in dental medicine Ting Chun-chan (丁羣展) said that unlike traditional test methods, the rapid test kit will not cause pain during the testing process and can complete the testing in six minutes at a clinic.

"It helps a lot" during diagnosis and follow-up treatments, he said.

The rapid test kit proved to be highly precise after being validated against tests using deep pocket probing, according to the statement.

(By Su Ssu-yun and Elizabeth Hsu)

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