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Disease

A team of MIT researchers has discovered a new target for drug treatments for prevalent diseases such as malaria. The findings focus on a membrane between the parasite and its host cell, with scientists successfully identifying a family of proteins that, when targeted, could cut off nutrients to the parasite.

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In Africa, the spread of parasitic worms known as Loa loa is seriously hindering the efforts of health care workers to cure particular rampant diseases. Though there are drugs available to treat both river blindness and lymphatic filariasis, if they are administered to a patient who also happens to also be infected with Loa loa the consequences can be lethal. This is complicated further by the inherent difficulties in screening for the worms, but a newly developed mobile phone microscope needing only a drop of blood to automatically detect the parasite promises to make things a whole lot simpler.

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At present, diagnosing malaria can be a difficult process involving powerful microscopes and careful scanning of blood samples for tiny parasites in a technique discovered in 1880. But a more accessible method may be in the works. A team of Australian scientists has discovered that certain chemicals are present and can be detected in the breath of sufferers, raising the possibility of a cheap breath test to diagnose the deadly disease. Read More
Researchers at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) have created a cheap and simple biosensing platform that is able to detect the presence of various types of harmful bacteria and viruses in a single drop of blood. When used in conjunction with a smartphone, the system offers the potential of diagnosing diseases in remote locations from anywhere in the world. Read More
In an effort to increase awareness of nutritional requirements, and to bring simple tech into complex customs, a medical foundation in India has joined forces with a Singaporean ad agency. The plan is to combat iodine deficiencies using bindis, the decorative forehead dots worn by most Indian women and girls. Read More
Typically, tests for diseases must be done one disease at a time, and can take days to be processed through a lab. A new device developed in an EU project, however, can test for several diseases at the same time and provide results within an hour. The LabDisk is designed for use in Africa. Read More
Researchers from MIT claim to have developed an easy-to-use blood test that can be applied in the field, allowing for the screening of multiple diseases at once. The test is said to provide results in around 10 minutes, and could be instrumental in stopping the epidemic spread of fatal diseases such as Ebola. Read More
Each year, hundreds of millions of people in developing countries are affected by parasitic diseases. One of the most common is malaria, which kills more than a million people annually, mostly children under five years of age. Scientists are using satellite data combined with local health information uploaded into geographical information systems (GIS) to help developing countries better manage limited resources and target interventions in the fight against malaria and other deadly parasitic diseases. Read More
A team of researchers at Trinity College Dublin has unearthed what they are calling a "marvel molecule." Said to be capable of suppressing a key activator of various inflammatory diseases, it is hoped the molecule will lead to more effective treatments for conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s disease, to rheumatoid arthritis and motor neuron disease. Read More
That smartphones have evolved to be capable of much more than making and receiving calls won't be news to many, but work being done to refashion them as medical diagnostics tools is proving to be a very promising area of mobile innovation. The latest big-picture idea to emerge in this area is a smartphone dongle capable of detecting three infectious disease markers within 15 minutes, requiring only a finger prick of blood. Read More
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