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    Dec 05, 2013

    World's fastest dengue detective

    NOTHING in the world diagnoses dengue faster.

    A portable diagnostic kit, now undergoing clinical trials at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, can detect the infection and pinpoint the strain-type in 20 minutes - a fraction of the two hours current tests take.

    The disposable kit, which will likely cost $10 to $15 each, is expected to be in use within the next 18 months.

    Current kits require trained laboratory staff to process, so only hospitals can detect which of the four dengue strain types a patient has contracted.

    Dr Tan Eng Lee, a biomedical-science lecturer who led the development of the kit, said this means it can be deployed in clinics that most suspected dengue patients visit.

    He added that early detection of strain-type can be "crucial" as a patient who contracts dengue more than once, and from a different strain, stands a high risk of developing haemorrhagic fever which can be fatal.

    "Extra care can then be given to those who contract dengue again and that of a different serotype as they would be more vulnerable," said Dr Tan from Singapore Polytechnic.

    The kit, he said, is believed to provide the fastest detailed diagnosis in the world. A local biotech company is looking to commercialise it.

    There have been 20,846 reported cases of dengue this year, including seven deaths.