Eric Deharo, biologist and pharmacologist at the Institut de Recherche pour le Dveloppement (IRD), working in Bolivia, has just received a special mention from the Altran Foundation (Altran Technologie) jury for his diagnostic kit for Chagas' disease, in the context of the 2002 awards "Technological innovation for the developing countries".
Up to now, in Bolivia imported tests had to be used for detecting Chagas' disease. From now on, they will be produced locally by a Bolivian company, Andilab, set up by means of a partnership between the IRD and the Faculty of Pharmacy of the Universidad Mayor de San Andrs, at La Paz.
Chagas' disease is caused by a flagellate protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, transmitted by a blood-sucking louse. Infection hits 24 millions people in the world and about 15% of the Bolivian population are affected by this parasite, although the disease remains in a latent stage for one in two people infected. Existing treatments are effective only in the first phase of the disease, if the tell-tale symptoms are not present (digestive disorders and heart problems). That is why the tests are very important for detecting and treating the disease.
Eric Deharo, is working in partnership with Fernando Vargas, a Bolivian technician. Together they developed a new diagnostic kit, Chagatest, using local strains of the parasite which renders is more effective for Bolivia. It will be produced and marketed, at half the price of imported tests, by Andilab.
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Contact: Bndicte ROBERT
Institut de Recherche Pour le Dveloppement
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