New diagnostic device may help end Africa’s struggle with Malaria
For over two decades, the quest to develop a working malaria vaccine has proven largely fruitless. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 3.2 billion people worldwide are at risk of being diagnosed with malaria. Every year, nearly 198 million cases are identified. WHO says a significant number of the almost 200 million cases are from Africa. However in recent times not only is there a potential malaria vaccine in the pipeline, a new device which is capable of diagnosing Malaria in minutes has emerged.
John Lewandowski, co-founder and CEO of Disease Diagnostics Group, has invented a new way of diagnosing the deadly disease using two magnets and a laser pointer. He believes that this will eradicate malaria by strengthening the offensive against it, while curbing issues regarding delay in detection.
The process of testing and diagnosis is referred to as microscopy. This usually involves the addition of a chemical to a patient’s blood sample to make the malaria parasite easier to see through a microscopic lens. The test itself takes about an hour and requires the expertise of a medical personnel. However in developing countries like Nigeria, it can take as long as 24 hours before test results are ready.
Lewandowski’s innovative technique helps determine, within minutes, whether or not there is iron in the bloodstream, as the parasites that cause malaria are usually unable to digest the iron in red blood cells. It is easy to detect traces of iron using magnets, this way the results are produced a lot faster than the current diagnostic methods.
The device, which costs about $250 to construct, is also eco-friendly and portable. It also doesn’t require any prior training before a test can be performed on a patient. This makes it highly attracted for developing nations where medical personnel and resources are relatively scarce.
If the tests currently being run by the U.S Navy on the prototype RAM device in Peru are successful, the product will be in the market before the year end. It will be offered at a price of $2,000 each.
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