|HOMEPAGE||Fri, 02/22/2019 GMT + 7||
Nigerian biotech firm develops urine test for malaria
A Nigerian biotechnology firm has come up with a new simple method for diagnosing malaria. This marks the first time urine, and not blood, is being used to test for malaria.
The new technology called Urine Test for Malaria (UMT), is a non-invasive bloodless rapid test that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes.
UMT uses a simple dip-stick and unlike the old method which requires health personel, people can self-diagnose for the disease at home.
Eddy Agbo, is a biochemist, and the founder of Fyodor, the biotechnology firm that developed this urine test kit. He says that the technology that took him 8 years of research and development, detects malaria parasite proteins in a patient's urine.
"Urine is acidic sample, usually when a protein is present in an acidic enviroment, it unravels, it becomes difficult to detect by conventional approach, so we had to re-engineer the tool so as to be able to fish it out be it even in that unconventional state," says Dr. Agbo.
This innovation gained international and local recognition after winning the inaugural 2015 Health Innovation Challenge awards in
Malaria's Magnetic Properties May Pull Treatments Forward
Malaria has a magnetic foe.
Andrea "Blue" Martin, a Carnegie Mellon University doctoral candidate inbiomedical engineering, is working to create a device that uses magnets to filter out patients' red blood cells infected by the mosquito-borne parasite, which makes the cells magnetic.The promising device, known as mPharesis, is the size of a smartphone and works by passing an extremely thin layer of blood over an array of magnets and ferromagnetic wires. The name is an abbreviation of magnetic apharesis, a procedure in which blood is filtered, separated and a portion returned to the donor.
"There are many published devices that separate out magnetic cells, but all operate at very low concentrations and throughput," Martin said. "mPharesis works with whole blood and a much larger scale."
The idea is that infected cells are pulled to the bottom of the device, skimmed off and discarded, while the filtered blood is returned to the patient.
"My preliminary experiments show that I am able to remove up to 20 percent of these infected cells on the first pass with conditions similar to a severely infected patient," she said during this year's Three-Minute Thesis competition. "My research shows great potential to be developed into a treatment system that is similar to, but cheaper than, dialysis."
Prior to working on her doctorate, Martin worked as a machinist and lab manager for Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering Professor Jim Antaki, who encouraged her to pursue her doctorate at CMU. She knew she wanted to work with medical devices, and through her work with Antaki, she started working with Accel Diagnostics. Her project spun out of that experience.
In its initial conception, the startup's device used one large magnet for filtering, but its magnetic field wasn't strong enough. Martin had the idea to use a number of smaller magnets to strengthen the field. Martin also created an inexpensive, quick laser-cut fabrication method for device prototypes. She said the device can be built in two hours and she can monitor in real time the separation under a microscope. She is aiming to earn her Ph.D. in 2017 and hopes to create or design medical devices.
Anti-malaria drug could help fight cancer
An anti-malaria drug could help radiotherapy to destroy tumours, according to a new study.
The Cancer Research UK-funded study, published in Nature Communications, looked at the effect of the drug atovaquone on tumours with low oxygen levels in mice to see if it could be repurposed to treat cancer. The research showed that the drug slows down the rate at which cancer cells use oxygen by targeting the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell that make energy, a process that uses oxygen.
As radiotherapy works by damaging the DNA in cells, and a good supply of oxygen reduces the ability of cancer cells to repair broken DNA, tumours with low oxygen levels are more difficult to treat successfully with radiotherapy. By slowing down the use of oxygen, atovaquone therefore reverses the low-oxygen levels in nearly all of the tumours. The fully-oxygenated tumours are more easily destroyed by radiotherapy.
The drug was shown to be effective in a wide range of cancers, including lung, bowel, brain, and head and neck cancer. This older medicine is no longer patented and is readily and cheaply available as a generic.
Lead author, Professor Gillies McKenna, at the Cancer Research UK/Medical Research Council Institute for Radiation oncology in
Dr Emma Smith, Cancer Research
Scientists exploit malaria's Achilles' heel
Malaria researchers at The Australian National University (ANU) have found one of the malaria parasite's best weapons against drug treatments turns out to be an Achilles' heel, which could be exploited to cure the deadly disease.
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