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Rapid Diagnostic Test for Leprosy Registered for Use in Brazil
The Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), in conjunction with OrangeLife, its partner in Brazil, announced on January 24, 2013, the registration of a rapid diagnostic test for leprosy in that country. The rapid diagnostic test offers new hope for early diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
There is a great need to more rapidly diagnose leprosy, before nerve damage occurs. According to Malcolm Duthie, Senior Scientist at IDRI, the diagnostic test is simple, easy to use and accurate. “You add a drop of blood and a couple of drops of a developing reagent to the test and a line develops,” he explained. “From there, it’s somewhat like a pregnancy test: the appearance of two lines indicate the test is positive and the person has leprosy.”
For more than ten years, American Leprosy Missions has partnered with IDRI, investing almost $4 million into the development of a leprosy vaccine and diagnostic test.
This year the two organizations are also collaborating to bring attention to World Leprosy Day, observed January 27, 2013. “World Leprosy Day helps focus on the needs of some of the poorest and most marginalized people in the world - those affected by leprosy. And, it reminds us of the millions of people who suffer from the effects of this terrible disease,” said Bill Simmons, American Leprosy Missions President and CEO. “By partnering with IDRI and providing funding for the diagnostic test and vaccine, we hope to bring this disease to an end.”
Read the February 19, 2013 New York Times front page article about the new diagnostic test.
Watch a video to see how the test works.
Read the article Can Leprosy Be Eradicated? published on February 20, 2013 in Slate about the leprosy vaccine and rapid diagnostic test.
C. Everett Koop, Longtime Supporter of People Affected by Leprosy
Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop died on Monday, February 25, 2013, at the age of 96. This leading figure in medicine was well-known for his anti-tobacco efforts and his work on AIDS. But what is less known about this visionary public health leader was his compassion for people suffering from leprosy and his longtime support for American Leprosy Missions.
In a 2004 nomination letter for a humanitarian award, Koop said, “Just as I found that the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, and the American Lung Association provided foot soldiers I desperately needed in the fight against tobacco, so I found that American Leprosy Missions was the sole source of providing foot soldiers against the scourge of leprosy and had built a climate of trust with non-governmental organizations and the governments of developing countries all over the world.”
In addition to his public support for the ministry of American Leprosy Missions, Koop also served on its Medical Board of Reference and was a key figure in the organization’s 2006 Centennial Campaign. This Campaign helped to launch American Leprosy Missions’ investment in the development of a rapid diagnostic test and vaccine for leprosy in partnership with the Infectious Disease Research Institute. In a fitting testimony to Koop’s legacy, the new diagnostic test was registered for use in Brazil in January 2013 and the vaccine will enter toxicology studies later this year.
The Atlantic Features Article on Continuing Problem of Leprosy
A recent article on TheAtlantic.com, Why Are So Many People Still Suffering from Leprosy?, brings awareness to the ongoing threat of leprosy around the world.
Leprosy remains a public health problem for many reasons including:
The article concludes by discussing the partnership between the Infectious Disease Research Institute and American Leprosy Missions who have been working to produce a simple diagnostic test and a leprosy vaccine, both of which are in the finalizing stages. Read the article.