Distinguish Zika Virus from Other Flaviviruses Via Simple Serodiagnostic Assays

Case ID: 01142


The recent emergence of Zika virus (ZIKV) and associated microcephaly has created an urgent need for a sensitive, specific, and rapid serodiagnostic test.  ZIKV belongs to the genus Flavivirus, which includes several mosquito-borne human pathogens such as dengue virus (DENV) and West Nile virus (WNV).  Due to the considerable immune response it elicits, current serological tests focus on the flaviviral envelope (E) protein despite considerable antibody cross-reactivity of the ZIKV E protein with that of other flaviviruses.  Positive or equivocal serological IgM tests based on E protein require time-consuming plaque reduction neutralization tests (PRNTs), which can confirm cases who acquire ZIKV as the first flaviviral infection, but not those who have experienced previous flaviviral infections.  Currently, laboratory diagnostic tests to confirm ZIKV infection are based on a positive RT-PCR result within 2 weeks following symptom onset.  However, it is estimated that 75-80% of ZIKV infections are asymptomatic, possibly precluding these individuals from a proper diagnosis.

Researchers at the University of Hawaii Department of Tropical Medicine, Medical Microbiology and Pharmacology have developed a serological assay to differentially diagnose ZIKV, DENV, and WNV infections well beyond the period of detection by RT-PCR.  Furthermore, the assay has the ability to distinguish secondary DENV infection from ZIKV with previous DENV infection.



•       Routine serological tests for ZIKV, DENV and WNV in clinical laboratories

•       Serosurveillance research

•       Monitoring ZIKV infection during pregnancy

•       Serodiagnostics in dengue-endemic regions



•       High sensitivity and specificity

•       Simple and rapid method for differential diagnosos between ZIKV, DENV and WNV

•       Readliy adaptable to diagnostic laboratories or field sites in developing countries


Patent Status

Patent pending



Tsai W.Y.; et al. Clin Infect Dis. 2017.  https://doi.org/10.1093/cid/cix672

Patent Information:
Wei-Kung Wang
Wen-Yang Tsai

For information, contact:
Kenneth Takeuchi
Technology Licensing Associate
University of Hawaii
(808) 956-9749

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