Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a collection of chronic, disabling, and disfiguring conditions that occur most commonly in the setting of extreme poverty.
NTDs affect more than one billion people living in 149 countries.
What are Neglected Tropical Diseases?
Historically, NTDs have not attracted much attention from the biomedical research and drug development community compared to other diseases; therefore the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced the designation in an effort to both direct and attract resources toward addressing the health burden associated with this group of diseases.
A complete list can be found on the WHO website.
Simplifying the diagnosis of a neglected disease can mean the difference between life or death. This is why, Barrie Rooney, a tropical disease expert and successful entrepreneur, invented a rapid diagnostic test for African Sleeping Sickness and is now working on a test to detect Chagas Disease – another on the neglected tropical disease list.
The WHO estimates that between 6 million and 7 million people worldwide are infected with Trypanosoma cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease. Most live in Latin America where the so-called kissing bug passes the parasite to humans and other animals with a bite. About 5% of children infected die during the early, acute phase of the disease. (See Video)
Why are 99% of the people with Chagas Disease undiagnosed?
TrozonX17 is conducting exploratory work on a RDT for Leishmaniasis. The disease is caused by a parasite that is transmitted to humans in a bite from a sandfly.
It threatens 350 million people in 88 countries worldwide and leads to life-long disfigurement and often death if untreated. Each type of Leishmaniasis is defined by where lesions form after an infection; they are visceral-guts (also known as kala-azar and the most serious form of the disease), cutaneous-skin (the most common), and mucocutaneous-mouth. The WHO estimates 700 000 to 1 million new cases and some 26 000 to 65 000 deaths occur annually. The disease affects some of the poorest people on earth.
When Simple Means Life
Simplifying the diagnosis of a neglected disease can mean the difference between life or death. This is why, Barrie, a tropical disease expert and successful entrepreneur, invented a rapid diagnostic test for African Sleeping Sickness. The disease occurs in 36 sub-Saharan Africa countries where a bite from the Tsetse fly transmits the disease to humans. Rural populations that depend on agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry or hunting are the most exposed to the Tsetse fly and, are therefore, vulnerable to infection. Without treatment, human African Trypsomosiasis is fatal.
The rapid diagnostic test Barrie developed replaces a complex multi-step procedure that includes an invasive spinal tap. The ability to detect and treat disease carriers greatly increases the feasibility of eliminating the disease.
Working to improve the diagnosis of Chagas Disease
With TroZon X17, Barrie is now applying the technology platform she assembled while developing the rapid diagnostic test for sleeping sickness, to the diseases caused by the related parasites in Chagas and Leishmaniasis.
Currently, the charity is in need of funding to support the development an affordable rapid diagnostic test for Chagas Disease. More specifically, we need to raise £500,000 complete the necessary research and to manufacture the number of tests needed for field trials. Our collaborative partner, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative, will incorporate the test into an ongoing clinical trial they are conducting on a new treatment for Chagas Disease.
Each test costs £2 to produce and any donation no matter how big or small will help us to bring our simple and easy to use diagnostic test in reach of the millions who are at risk of infection.