Scientists develop new tool for advanced diagnosis of chronic hepatitis B

Team of scientists have developed an advanced laboratory tool to improve diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. The technique can assess several indicators crucial for optimal patient management.

The tool is a highly sensitive coamplification at lower denaturation temperature PCR (COLD-PCR) used along with probe-based fluorescence melting curve analysis (FMCA). This enhances the precision of diagnosis of chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients.

Reports allege, the tool is convenient, inexpensive, and practical, in addition, it can also be used in average hospital laboratories on regular basis.

According to experts, although several molecular methods have been designed to measure such parameters, these both have poor sensitivity and have been unable to detect more than one mutation at a time or have been too expensive and cumbersome for clinical use.

“Our goal was to establish a more practical and inexpensive method with high sensitivity to detect genotype and RT mutations while detecting HBV DNA,” explained Dr Qishui Ou, PhD, Department of Laboratory Medicine, The First Affliated Hospital of Fujian Medical University, the Gene Diagnostic Laboratory, Fujian Medical University, and the Fujian Key Laboratory of Laboratory Medicine, Fuzhou, China.

According to experts, COLD-PCR/FMCA can help in examining HBV mutations at lower concentrations in comparison to other techniques such as PCR/FMCA or PCR Sanger sequencing (1 percent vs. 10 percent vs. 20 percent, respectively).

Furthermore, the new technique helps in differentiating between several phases of HBV infection based on proportion and type of mutations as well as by detecting HBV DNA.

“Until now there have not been high-throughput approaches to detect HBV DNA, genotype, and RT mutations simultaneously. Therefore, it is necessary to establish a more practical and inexpensive method with high sensitivity to detect genotype and RT mutations while detecting HBV DNA. COLD-PCR/FMCA has that potential,” commented Dr Ou.