New chickenpox and shingles virus detection test developed

June 10, 2020

Viro Research announced the launch of ZosterGent for lesion testing of at-risk patients suspected of having chickenpox or shingles, such as immunosuppressed populations like pregnant women or those with HIV, cancer or organ transplants.

David R. Kilpatrick, Ph.D., microbiologist formerly of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, states, “A simple, highly specific and rapid assay such as ZosterGent is desirable and fills the clinical need to detect VZV antigens in skin lesions and cell cultures.”

Herpes zoster, commonly referred to as shingles, is caused by the reactivation of the Varicella-Zoster Virus (VZV), the same virus that causes varicella (chickenpox) typically in childhood. After chickenpox resolves, the VZV still remains in the body but lies dormant, often reactivating in the elderly and immunocompromised individuals as shingles, causing a painful rash with open sores.

Having HIV or cancer can increase a person’s risk, as the immune system is compromised and more receptive to disease. Radiation or chemotherapy can also lower one’s resistance and could be a catalyst for shingles. Certain medications such as prednisone (steroids) or those that prevent rejection of transplanted organs can also increase the risk of contracting shingles.

“Other tests – including PCR and ELISA – exist today for detection of VZV. Many are time-consuming and need to be sent to testing facilities but can be processed in larger batches which can be attractive for high-volume reference labs,” remarks Nicholas Vafai, PhD, MBA, CEO and co-founder of Viro Research. “However, pathologists may be required to directly detect and observe the infected cells in skin lesions and in the patient’s tissue under the microscope, which is why they would prefer ZosterGent, an immunofluorescent assay (IFA) approach.”

The ZosterGent Reagent is a fast (20-30 minutes), simple (one-step, one-solution) fluorescent antibody test for the detection and confirmation of chickenpox (varicella) and shingles (zoster) in clinical specimens and inoculated cell cultures. Under a fluorescent microscope samples will appear with bright green intensity making the specimen easy to see and recognize.

Viro Research has the release.