In a breakthrough for localized medical help, based on breathalyser technology, an Indian research team, after receiving a $950,000 grant, plan to have a prototype electronic nose – capable of detecting Tuberculosis in the exhaled breath of a person – in hospitals by October 2013., among other medical marvels.
In a breakthrough for localized medical help, based on breathalyser technology, an Indian research team, after receiving a $950,000 grant, plan to have a prototype electronic nose – capable of detecting Tuberculosis in the exhaled breath of a person – in hospitals by October 2013.
Since TB is second only to HIV and Aids as the world’s deadliest infectious disease, this device could mark a breakthrough, the big
advantage being that testing can be done at village level with this hand-held, battery powered equipment.
As it stands, people must visit hospital at least twice, both for test and result, so not having to travel reduces infection risks. The electronic nose diagnoses TB through the detection of changes in seven molecules, sensors tracking bio-markers in the breath.
Scientists say electronic noses could also be created for early detection of lung cancer and pneumonia, based on signature bio-markers of those diseases detectable in a patent’s breath.
Up to 400,000 lives can be saved annually in developing world countries by early diagnosis, because just like the common cold, TB is spread through the air, people sick with it highly infectious. Since a person needs only to inhale a small number of these to be infected, and every active TB sufferer infects an average of 10 to15 people yearly.
The problem is that those infected with TB may not become sick, because immune system walls off the bacilli with a thick waxy coat, leaving it can dormant, sometimes for years, waiting for the immune system to become weaker.
The Red List is something of which we all ought to be aware, without doubt the most detailed survey of earth species, more than 61,900 reviewed for the first time. Horrifyingly, the newest list shows 801 extinct, 64 more extinct in the wild, and 9,568 as critically endangered or endangered.
Not only are we faced with those awful statistics, but a further 10,002 species are classified vulnerable, pollution, habitat loss and degradation among reasons cited. Among these are medically valuable examples of natural resources such the Himalayan yew tree from which cancer Chemotherapy drug Taxol is produced.
Pushed now to the very edge of extinction through over-harvesting,
medicinal tree Taxus contorta, native to Afghanistan, India and Nepal, has now joined the Red List, not the only medicinally useful plant to feature there.
The US National Cancer Institute, in the late 1960s, isolated Taxol from bark of Pacific yew tree Taxus brevifolia, all yew 11 species found to contain it. Harvesting and trade need careful control for sustainability, and steps are being taken.
Royal Botanic Gardens spokesmen commented that the Red List holds some 380,000 species of plants, about 2,000 being added annually, estimates putting 20% under threat of imminent extinction even before climate change gets factored in.
Once widespread in Vietnam and China, the Chinese water fir is critically endangered, through loss of habitat to agriculture use. Almost 80% of Seychelles Islands flowering plants are on the brink, the Coco de Mer, illegally harvested for supposed aphrodisiac uses.
According to the World Health Organisation, 1.3 million people die every year re-using syringes. Marc Koska, auto-disable syringe designer and Safe-Point charity founder of a charity, showed the Tanzanian health minister undercover footage of children being injected with used needles.
This resulted in their becoming first country on earth to move exclusively to using self-destruct syringes, Koska hoping to persuade Kenya, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda to follow suit before going global with his idea.
With stakes far higher than most people imagine – take, for example, the horrifying fact that 23million cases of hepatitis, cost $120billionare transmitted annually in this way, whilst around 20million injections contaminated with HIV are given annually in Africa, and even the developing world, syringes get used four times on average.
Clearest danger signals are given by gaps between the numbers of injections and imported needles. What happens to children after initial immunisation is the killer, because in developing countries, treatment is often by injection, but village doctors may have just one syringe for several hundred people, so that kids getting healthy start are at risk of later infections.
Auto-disable syringes are now as cheap to make as any other, and Koska hopes to persuade families to demand safe injections from needles with LifeSaver kite marks. He spent years studying the problem before he hitting on his design, the plunger in hid syringe breaking on being pulled back so that it can never be re-used
3billion of these have now been distributed, Koska finally signing a contract to produce his auto-disable design with the world’s biggest syringe-maker, now targeting the UN and aid agencies providing medicines to the developing world.