Although it can only detect whether the bird flu is resistant to tamiflu or not. This is not a test to diagnose Bird Flu, just to find it's type -- a step which the new test basically halves the time it takes to do so. So instead of eight hours, now the doctor will be able to tell you "I'm sorry, there's nothing we can do" in four hours! Exciting stuff!
Wouldn't the doctors just administer the tamiflu at the start of symptoms and see if it helps? Who are these doctors out there holding out on treatment until they're absolutely sure that it will be beneficial? It's not like oseltamivir is some hellish drug like amphotericin B or something and a hasty administration might be dangerous. Oh well, here's what The Nation wrote about it:
"Chulalongkorn University has successfully developed a new testing method for fast and accurate detection of bird flu resistance to the anti-viral drug oseltamivir, currently the best defence against the lethal virus.
The testing technique was capable of detecting any sub-types of the H5N1 strain, said Professor Yong Poovorawan, of Chulalongkorn's Faculty of Medicine, who led the development team.
"This means it could be used anywhere in the world to see if the virus is resistant to oseltamivir or not, and in time to save patients' lives," he said.
Moreover, the testing technique was also developed to be used with a conventional biomolecular testing laboratory in areas where the advanced type was not available.
It had been found that a significant difference between the H5N1 virus, which was oseltamivir resistant, was the change of amino acid at position 274 of the N1 subtype, Yong said.
The new testing method was developed based on this finding, using both Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) and Conventional PCR. The former takes between two to four hours to know the results, whereas the latter takes approximately eight hours to tell whether the virus is resistant to the drug or not.
Chulalongkorn researchers had tested the technique on both human and animal specimens and whether both were resistant to oseltamivir. The human specimen of the world's first case of oseltamivir resistance in Vietnam was taken for testing in Thailand."----------------------------------------------------------
Save patients lives? Its not like there's dozens of antivirals out there that are ultra-specific like it is for antibiotics. If the patient is showing signs of bird flu, why isn't the protocol to just put them on both zanamivir and oseltamivir and wait for signs of improvement? How does this test ultimately do anything useful? What can a doctor do to save a patients life if they have resistant H5N1? Cold compress and a saline drip?
But anyway, thank you Chula U of Thailand, thank you for speeding up a test no doctor in their right mind would worry about doing.
Meanwhile, Indonesia's got more troublesome news to report as H5N1 has spread to their pigs. Cause, ya know... its not like pigs and humans have similar physiology or anything...