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DBS-Based Assay Effective in Hepatitis C Diagnosis and Treatment for At Risk Populations

By LabMedica International staff writers
Posted on 28 Mar 2023
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Image: Use of DBS samples can break barriers in hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment for populations at risk (Photo courtesy of Pexels)
Image: Use of DBS samples can break barriers in hepatitis C diagnosis and treatment for populations at risk (Photo courtesy of Pexels)

In a bid to eliminate viral hepatitis as a public health threat by 2030, the World Health Organization (WHO) has put forth a proposed strategy. To this end, researchers at the Germans Trias i Pujol Research Institute (IGTP, Barcelona, Spain) have been working on developing and validating an assay that can detect hepatitis C virus RNA using dried blood spot (DBS) samples, simplifying its diagnosis. The use of these minimally invasive samples can make it easier to diagnose hepatitis C for vulnerable populations like those who inject drugs. While the new test has shown good clinical performance as a diagnostic tool for detecting HCV RNA before treatment in previous studies by the research group, its efficacy as a test for cure or for detecting reinfection after treatment using DBS samples had not yet been evaluated.

People who inject drugs are at risk of HCV reinfection, which must be treated promptly to prevent further transmission of the virus. However, detecting the virus in DBS samples can be difficult during early reinfection, as these samples contain only a small amount of blood. In a new study, researchers investigated a minimally invasive DBS-based test for monitoring HCV infection in people who inject drugs. The study demonstrated that using DBS samples for HCV RNA detection and genotyping effectively evaluates treatment outcomes and distinguishes between reinfection and treatment failure. These results suggest that it is feasible to decentralize treatment and post-treatment monitoring for people injecting drugs, who may encounter difficulties in accessing healthcare services.

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