Researchers from the Nagasaki University in Japan have developed a new method to detect the presence of Ebola virus in 30 minutes.

The new method is claimed to allow doctors to rapidly diagnose the infection.

Professor Jiro Yasuda and team was quoted by AFP as saying that the newly developed process is cheaper than the system, which is currently in use in West Africa where the virus has already claimed around 1,500 lives.

Yasuda said: "The new method is simpler than the current one and can be used in countries where expensive testing equipment is not available.

"We have yet to receive any questions or requests, but we are pleased to offer the system, which is ready to go."

Currently, the Ebola virus is being detected using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. This method involves heating and cooling samples repeatedly to amplify the DNA of the virus and the procedure takes up to nearly two hours.

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"More patients can be diagnosed with the new method."

In the new test, a substance called a primer is used that increases only those genes specific to the Ebola virus found in a blood sample or other bodily fluid.

The DNA specific to the virus, if present, will be shown within 30 minutes.

The new method is also suitable for use in regions with poor power infrastructure as it requires only a small, battery powered warmer to carry out the test.

Yasuda added: "Current testing methods can only be used in very limited places in large cities.

"More patients can be diagnosed with the new method."

Image: Ebola virus virion. Photo: courtesy of CDC/Cynthia Goldsmith.