Friday, September 9, 2011

New DNA probe that could accurately doctors the number of copies of virus in hepatitis B patients

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: City scientists have designed a new DNA probe that
could accurately tell doctors the number of copies of virus in
hepatitis B patients for easy monitoring of the disease.

This is the first indigenously developed DNA probe for detection of
"viral load" (number of copies of the virus) in hepatitis B patients.
It has 100 per cent sensitivity result and can detect all sub-types of
hepatitis B virus. Further, the new DNA probe will cut down the cost
of diagnostic tests as it is designed in the country.

"During diagnosis of hepatitis B virus, chances are that certain
sub-types are not detected. Moreover, for the virus to be detected it
has to be present in certain number. Our DNA probe saves money for
patients and help doctors to change the treatment modalities as it
tells them whether or not the patient is responding to the treatment,"
said senior scientist Dr MN Khaja.

Dr Khaja and other city scientists Dr Naresh Yalamanchili, Dr Syed
Rahmatullah, Dr Madhavi Chandra, Dr Vishnupriya Satti, Dr Ramachandra
Rao and Dr M Aejaz Habeeb are part of the team that designed the new
DNA probe. They are from the Centre for Liver Research and
Diagnostics, Owaisi Hospital and Research Centre, and Department of
Genetics, Osmania University. Since the probe does not skip any of the
virus varieties present in the patient, it will give the exact viral
load he or she is suffering from.

The higher the viral load the greater the severity of the disease.
Hepatitis B positive patients are put on six or 24 weeks of treatment
regimen and during this period the viral load is accessed at regular
intervals. If the viral load comes down, it means the patient is
responding to the treatment. If the patient is not responding, the
doctor will change the treatment mode. The city team's DNA probe helps
in this process.

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