CDC researchers have developed a multiplexed diagnostic assay for sensitive detection and distinction between viral group members based on the presence/absence of infection-generated antibodies within a clinical serum sample. For example, this assay can be used for rapid discrimination of a clinical unknown as specifically a West Nile or St. Louis encephalitis viral infection. This is particularly beneficial as these two viruses are typically difficult to distinguish by standard serological assays.
This new technique uses microsphere/microbead-based flow-analysis as a platform. Because of a basis in a pre-existing technology, the technique can be easily incorporated into current state and health department diagnostic testing protocols. The method is particularly unique because the assay-generated data can be standardized and then classified via discriminant analysis to determine the presence or absence of antibodies of interest within the clinical sample tested.
Furthermore, along with allowances for single-result generation, data manipulation and classification algorithms allow for assay output comparisons to the original large data set references used in development. In this way, results from different laboratories can now be directly compared to one another, provided that the same controls are used.