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Harvard researchers develop fast and cheap way to check blood or saliva for Zika virus

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Researchers at Harvard University have devised a test to quickly and cheaply detect the Zika virus in blood or saliva, offering a much-needed method for remote testing, a study said Friday.

Public health experts have warned that the lack of standardized diagnostic tests for Zika, which can cause birth defects, presents a major problem for efforts to understand and prevent the disease.

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The new test can detect viruses “at significantly lower concentrations than previously possible,” said the study by scientists at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.

The proof-of-concept demonstration showed the tool could work in monkeys, and would cost less than a dollar per patient, according to the findings published in the journal Cell.

The tool shows its results “through a simple ‘color-change’ assay, which an untrained eye can easily use to evaluate whether Zika is present or not in a biological sample,” according to the report.

The CDC has already approved two tests for diagnosing Zika, known as the Zika MAC-ELISA and Trioplex Real-Time RT-PCR Assay.

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However, the tests are complicated and sometimes confuse Zika with similar viruses such as West Nile or dengue.

The new test could be available in the next several months, and would “improve upon key limitations of currently available options for Zika detection, such as potential cross-reactivity with closely-related viruses and a lack of specialized skills or equipment to screen for the virus outside of large urban areas,” said the report.

Meanwhile, another study unveiled details about how the mosquito-borne Zika virus attacks the brain, killing and shrinking cells and resulting in babies born with unusually small heads, a condition known as microcephaly.

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Published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the research was led by scientists at the University of San Diego School of Medicine.

The CDC has already approved two tests for diagnosing Zika, known as the Zika MAC-ELISA and Trioplex Real-Time RT-PCR Assay.

However, the tests are complicated and sometimes confuse Zika with similar viruses such as West Nile or dengue.

ADVERTISEMENT

The new test could be available in the next several months, and would “improve upon key limitations of currently available options for Zika detection, such as potential cross-reactivity with closely-related viruses and a lack of specialized skills or equipment to screen for the virus outside of large urban areas,” said the report.

Meanwhile, another study unveiled details about how the mosquito-borne Zika virus attacks the brain, killing and shrinking cells and resulting in babies born with unusually small heads, a condition known as microcephaly.

Published in the journal Cell Stem Cell, the research was led by scientists at the University of San Diego School of Medicine.

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Three judges suspended for drunken 3 AM fight at White Castle — that ended with two shot

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Three judges were suspended after engaging in a drunken shooting outside a White Castle.

"Three Indiana judges involved in a Downtown Indianapolis fight in May that ended with two of the judges shot have been suspended without pay after the Indiana Supreme Court determined they committed judicial misconduct," the Indianapolis Star reports. "In an opinion issued Tuesday, the court said judges Bradley Jacobs, Andrew Adams and Sabrina Bell 'engaged in judicial misconduct by appearing in public in an intoxicated state and behaving in an injudicious manner and by becoming involved in a verbal altercation.'"

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What Zelensky knew: The devastating and darkly ironic impact of Trump’s attempt to bribe Ukraine

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In their effort to exculpate President Donald Trump in the impeachment inquiry, Republicans put Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s denial that he ever felt pressure from the White House to open up investigations into Democrats at the center of their argument. A new GOP memo says that both leaders have acknowledged “there was no pressure” on the famous July 25 call that sparked the inquiry and thus argues that the allegations made by Democrats that Trump abused his power don’t hold.

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Greta Thunberg says ‘people must finally wake up’ to the fact Trump is ‘so extreme’ on climate change

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Swedish teen activist Greta Thunberg said Tuesday that US President Donald Trump's climate change denialism was "so extreme" that it had helped galvanize the movement to halt long term planetary warming.

She spoke in an interview with AFP on the eve of her departure from North America where she has spent almost three months.

"He's so extreme and he says so extreme things, so I think people wake up by that in a way," the 16-year-old said from on board a sailboat preparing to depart from the East Coast town of Hampton, Virginia for Europe early Wednesday.

"I thought when he got elected, now people will finally, now people must finally wake up," she continued.

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