Drugs & Diagnostics for Tropical Diseases (DDTD), a non-profit biotech company in San Diego, works to create diagnostics and treatments for Neglected Tropical Diseases such as malaria, Dengue Fever and River Blindness. DDTD is supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and San Diego philanthropists.
Neglected Tropical Diseases affect 1.4 billion people in developing nations around the world. However, for-profit companies are not developing many solutions to treat these diseases because these markets are not profitable.
Marco Biamonte, founder and President of DDTD, is not interested in making a profit. He is interested in creating affordable diagnostics and tropical disease treatments that only cost US$1 each. That seems like an impossible task but this week DDTD announced they have begun manufacturing the first blood test that can detect Loiasis, a disease that affects 3-40 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. Loiasis is also called African Eye Worm because the Loa loa worms often make their way into people's eyes, growing just beneath the surface.
“Loiasis is a highly neglected tropical disease, and there is growing evidence that it is associated with renal, cardiac, and neurological problems and with a shorter life expectancy. Further, L. loa presents a major obstacle to international efforts aimed at controlling river blindness and elephantiasis. The time has arrived for us to intervene,” said Marco.
DDTD's Loa Antibody Rapid Test, costs less than US$2 per test, is simple to use and is stable under extreme temperatures. The test runs on a single drop of blood and results are ready in 20 minutes. DDTD has also developed a smart phone reader that can record test results and track GPS co-ordinates to provide real-time tracking of Loiasis diagnosis. The test is 94% sensitive and 100% specific when compared with healthy controls and is available for Research Use Only until it meets regulatory requirements.
Check out DDTD's website for more information or to donate to their cause.
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