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Simply Seeing
18 March 2018

Simply Seeing

The diagnosis and treatment of rare or poorly understood tropical diseases is sometimes relatively straightforward in a well-equipped hospital with specialist staff. But by their nature, they often persist in areas with limited resources, so there’s a need for simpler tests. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a parasitic disease transmitted by sandflies. It mostly affects young people, and can be fatal if untreated. Diagnosis usually requires microscope analysis of samples collected through risky and uncomfortable invasive methods, or molecular tests that rely on specialist kit. A new proposed test promises to clearly visualise results with a simple blood test using easily stored reagents. A study trialled its reliability, compared to molecular tests, with suspected VL patients in Sudan and found it almost perfect. It produces easily understood results (pictured, a negative example top left, positive bottom right, and varied results in the other tubes), with – crucially – relatively cheap and simple equipment.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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