Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Hope For Major Advance In Fighting World Killer Disease

University of Leicester scientists are heading a worldwide research project which could revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of diarrhoea in children in developing countries.

The four-year project, the results of which are now being piloted in four hospitals in India, will offer a means of identifying the two most deadly forms of the disease quickly, cheaply and with little training necessary for practitioners.

The implications for improving children’s health could be enormous. Diarrhoea is a major killer in developing countries. World Health Organisation statistics indicate that more than 2 million people die each year from the effects of diarrhoea, most of them children under five years old.

Diarrhoea is caused by a range of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms, and is usually spread by contaminated water and poor sanitation. Two particular bacteria , enteropathogenic E.coli (EPEC), which causes a persistent infection lasting more than 14 days, and Shigella, the cause of dysentery - are the most deadly in terms of killing children. They cause only 20% of cases of diarrhoea but result in 60% of deaths. It is these two killers - EPEC and Shigella - that the Leicester-led project is targeting.

Peter Williams, Professor of Microbiology in the Department of Genetics, and Leicester colleagues Uta Praekelt and Marie Singer, are working with scientists at the Robert Koch Institute in Germany and Anna University in Chennai India, and with doctors at the Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, and at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

Their project, called the European-Asian Challenge to Childhood Diarrhoea, or EACh-ChilD (because each child is precious!) currently receives funding of €1m from the European Union, but in its earlier stages it was supported by an Academic Links Scheme funded by the British Council and the Indian University Grants Commission.

Professor Williams commented: “All cases of diarrhoea look the same to start with, and children are usually given oral rehydration therapy, which is cheap and puts back fluids lost by diarrhoea. But disease caused by EPEC and Shigella does not usually respond to oral rehydration therapy. They are much more severe forms of the disease and even if they don’t kill they can often inflict irreversible damage that interferes with the child’s growth and development.

“Current practice in most Indian clinics is only to test for E. coli and Shigella if the child’s symptoms have not responded to oral rehydration therapy by three days. The usual tests then take a further three days, by which time the disease may have progressed to a very serious stage. Our project has been to design a rapid method to identify these two types of the disease so that doctors can focus treatment immediately on those children who need it, before the damage is done.

“It’s often said that, if a medical intervention costs more than US$½ it’s not going to be viable in developing countries. Our test is quick, robust and cheap. At a workshop we held recently at Anna University, more than 30 people, ranging from technicians and students to clinical professors, had the opportunity to perform the tests with their own hands and see the results with their own eyes. They were very impressed!”

In the developing world it is not possible on cost grounds to give antibiotics to every child with diarrhoea, and in any case antibiotics would not work in every case. The Leicester test includes the facility to determine antibiotic resistance profiles quickly so that the correct antibiotics can be used.

With basic equipment donated by the EACh-ChilD project, the test is now being piloted in four hospitals in south India, one of which, the Government Children’s Hospital in Chennai, is the biggest children’s hospital in Asia. Once any further improvements are made following these trials, then Professor Williams expects the technique to spread round other clinicians in the region and elsewhere. His team has already received enquiries from the Gambia in Africa.

A commercial testing kit is currently being developed.

Alex Jelley | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia
21.10.2016 | Universitätsklinikum Magdeburg

nachricht New potential cancer treatment using microwaves to target deep tumors
12.10.2016 | University of Texas at Arlington

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>