Chinese scientists have developed a biochip for quick detection of the virus (HCV) that causes hepatitis C, a liver illness that has infected about 40 million Chinese mainly through blood contamination.
The silica-based protein chip detects HCV in blood samples more efficiently and accurately than the current method of ELISA (Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay), said Wang Shengqi, who led a team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Military Medicines(CAMM) and from Yishengtang Biological Products Co. Ltd. of south China's Shenzhen city.
The product, officially known as the "Detection Kit for HCV Antibodies", has been approved to enter the market by the State Drug Administration (SDA).
Wang, deputy director of a Beijing-based national biochip engineering center, said the significance of the product goes far beyond just controlling HCV, since the country is determined to boost the whole biochip industry.
The Chinese government has invested some 500 million yuan (US$60 million) to launch two national biochip engineering centers and several major research programs in recent years, said Wang.
Some high-tech enterprises have also invested one billion yuan to develop biochips for use in medical diagnosis, new drug development, environmental protection and many other fields.
Wang said his biochip laboratory at the CAMM is developing a new biochip for simultaneous detection of the viruses of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, syphilis and HIV (human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS).
The new product is expected to get a permit from the SDA late next year, Wang said.
(Xinhua News Agency December 9, 2002)