South West Wales

On-the-spot hepatitis test being developed in Swansea

Hepatitis blood sample Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The new tests could see the end of blood samples

An on-the-spot test to diagnose three types of hepatitis is being developed.

It would use a patient's saliva instead of blood and the test would be as simple and quick as a blood glucose sensor or a pregnancy test.

Current screening for hepatitis A, B and C involves taking blood with results taking up to seven days.

The two-year project is a joint venture between the UK and China with Swansea playing a key role through Swansea University's Centre for NanoHealth.

Hepatitis is a huge global problem with nearly 400 million people worldwide affected, resulting in more than one point four million deaths per year.

The World Health Organisation has reported 257 million people infected with hepatitis B alone.

Swansea-based Biovici is leading the project which has been funded by the UK's Newton Fund and also partnered by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), the UK's National Measurement Institute and University of Chongqing and industry partner CTN.

Paul Morgan, chief executive at Biovici, said: "This collaboration between NPL, Swansea University's Centre for NanoHealth and our partners in China opens a unique opportunity to develop a low-cost, affordable test, which will bring major benefits to the global fight against the spread of this highly infectious disease.

"Many people associate hepatitis as a problem that happens elsewhere and not in their home country.

"However, hepatitis is a global epidemic which is rapidly affecting parts of the UK, throughout Europe and the USA."

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