New technology to fight neglected tropical diseases

Leishmaniasis, a neglected tropical disease, is endemic in 97 countries and up to 1 million new cases occur each year. When left undiagnosed in the early stages, it may progress into serious conditions leading to disability and death. This disease dramatically lowers the quality of life and worsens poverty and inequality.

New technology in the form of rapid and low-cost diagnostic devices offers the prospect of early intervention when leishmaniasis is readily treatable. A parallel investigation is underway to better understand leishmaniasis, helping to find new drugs to treat the condition. This research addresses both these issues, providing cheap, portable and robust solutions.

Newton-funded researchers in Brazil and the UK are co-developing this technology in such a way that the ideas, skills, and trained people remain in the country where they are most needed. Prototypes will be tested in poor regions of Brazil bringing immediate benefits to these people. This will attract publicity, raising awareness of this disease, locally and around the world.

In time, improvements in health will lead to better quality of life and are an economic enabler. These new acoustic devices can break the cycle of neglected tropical diseases in poor regions around the world. The development of new technology in partnership with Brazil will also lead to new skilled jobs in technology and manufacturing.

Rapid point-of-care technology and new drugs discovery could revolutionise the diagnosis and treatment of leishmaniasis, benefitting thousands of people in the poorest regions of the world.

Dr Mardjane Alves de Lemos Nunes, Superintendent of Health Surveillance, Alagoas, Brazil

Acoustophoretic technology: from theory to application

Project leads: Professor Bruce Drinkwater, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Bristol and Associate Professor Glauber Silva, Physical Acoustics Group, Federal University of Alagoas

Delivery partners: Royal Society and the Brazilian Council for the State Funding Agencies (CONFAP) and Foundation for Support to Research of Alagoas (FAPEAL)

SDG 3 icon