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TJU-led Group Establishes Ebola Screening Training Program in Ivory Coast

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – An international, public-private group led by Thomas Jefferson University is offering a collaborative training program designed to preemptively combat the potential threat of an Ebola virus epidemic in Ivory Coast.

The four-week training program will take place in the laboratory of Matthias Schnell, professor of microbiology and immunology at TJU, whose research team is developing an Ebola virus vaccine that is expected to move into clinical trials in mid-2015.

Other collaborators include the Institute Pasteur, the Organization of International Visitors of the USA, and Thermo Fisher Scientific, which will provide StepOnePlus real-time PCR instruments to TJU and a training center in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

While initial training will focus on Ebola screening, the program could eventually expand to include other diseases relevant to the region, such as malaria, Lassa fever, and dengue fever, Thermo Fisher said.

The Ebola epidemic has led to more than 8,370 deaths across four West African countries since March 2014. Screening patient samples to identify, quarantine, and treat those who test positive for the virus has been critical to slow its spread in Africa and elsewhere around the world.

"It is important to provide the countries of West Africa with the proper resources and training to help them combat this outbreak," Schnell said in a statement. With Thermo Fisher's support, "we have been able to move quickly to get the appropriate state-of-the-art equipment for the training center," he added.

Thermo Fisher's Applied Biosystems qPCR instruments are used in public health laboratories worldwide for clinical research applications, including screening for the Ebola virus. They were also used to help identify pathogens and screen samples during the H1N1 influenza and Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreaks in 2009 and 2012, respectively.

The StepOnePlus system is for research use only.