Babesia is a protozoan parasite of the blood that causes a hemolytic disease known as Babesiosis. The most common cause of transfusion-related infectious fatalities in the United States, the Babesia parasite is commonly transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected tick, although the parasite can also be transmitted through blood transfusions or from mother to fetus during pregnancy. According to a CDC report, in 2013, among the 27 states in which babesiosis was a reportable condition, 1,762 cases were notified. Roche, a global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics that aims to improve patient access to medical innovations recently announced its immediate plans to initiate blood samples screening with the cobas® Babesia test under an Investigational New Drug Application protocol. This new test will screen whole blood samples for parasitic infection from four common species of Babesia.
Designed for use on the cobas® 6800/8800 Systems, the cobas® Babesia test enables the detection of four common strains of Babesia in blood samples. These systems are based on a fully integrated, fully automated modular design that can expand with the growing needs of your lab. When implemented with these systems, the cobas® Babesia test provides labs with a fully-automated, high-volume testing solution to detect the parasite in whole blood samples, ensuring that potentially infected blood units are removed from the blood supply. This test can also be run alongside the cobas® Zika test from Roche, which was introduced under a separate Investigational New Drug Application protocol in 2016.
According to Uwe Oberlaender, Head of Roche Molecular Diagnostics, “The Babesia test adds to our rapidly expanding menu on the industry-leading cobas® 6800/8800 systems, which in turn helps healthcare professionals diminish potential risks of infection from transfused blood products.”
Though the cobas® Babesia test has not been FDA cleared or approved, it is recommended to be used under an IND protocol by US blood screening laboratories. Avoiding tick bites is the best way to prevent babesiosis, along with prompt removal of any tick that is found already attached to the skin.