MERS-CoV (Middle- East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus) is a Coronavirus, endemic in Middle East. The virus attacks the human respiratory system and is considered to be highly pathogenic, causing a series of non-specific symptoms which complicate the diagnosis. It is transmitted through human-to-human contact, as well as through direct or indirect contact with host animals. The Wolrd Health Organization has declared MERS-CoV as one of the most likely to cause a future epidemic and urges for further research. It is worth mentioning that the mortality rate of humans infected by MERS-CoV is above 35%.
Since 2012, there have been reported cases of MERS-CoV infection in 27 countries, including Greece. The majority of cases were located in Saudi Arabia. However, the issue does not concern only the Middle East but the entire world as well. Modern means of transport eliminate distances, thus facilitating the movement both of humans and pathogenic microorganisms. Our test will be of great use to international travellers, so as to avoid outbreaks of the virus in regions were it isn’t endemic.
Developing a Diagnostic Kit
On-time diagnosis is of great importance, as it is critical in treating the disease and preventing an epidemic. Our goal is to design a routine method for detecting MERS-CoV. We're aiming for an easy to use, time-efficient test that is reliable and safe, can be used outside the lab, and doesn't require specially trained staff, as opposed to existing methods of diagnosis.
The developed technology could also be applied to diagnose not only infections from other viruses or pathogens, but also certain types of cancer.