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3-D Printer Helps Fight Malaria in Africa

January 8, 2015 – 9:55 AM


Thursday, January 8, 2015, 9:55 AM

Vanderbilt University/Joseph Conrad research

Written by Amy Wolf, Edited by Zack Eagles

Every minute a child dies of malaria.  And it’s a disease that’s preventable and curable!   A special team at Vanderbilt is in the thick of the fight against malaria and other diseases—with the help of a 3-d printer.

PKG—-

EVERYDAY 13-HUNDRED CHILDREN DIE FROM MALARIA. THAT’S THE DEATH TOLL OF THREE WORLD TRADE CENTER ATTACKS A WEEK.

SOT- Priscilla Lumano-Mulenga
Vanderbilt-Zambia Network for Innovation in Global Health Technologies

“Almost everyone has had several bouts of malaria.”

THESE SHOCKING NUMBERS ARE WHY ZAMBIAN SCIENTIST PRISCILLA LUMANO-MULENGA IS WORKING WITH VANDERBILT RESEARCHERS.

Priscilla- “It was not an easy decision to leave a husband and three children.”

SHE HAS A LIFE-CHANGING GOAL.

Priscilla- “What inspired me is I want to see a Zambia free of malaria.”

BUT ON THE HORIZON THERE IS HOPE, WITH THIS DEVICE.

VANDERBILT CHEMIST JOSEPH CONRAD AND PRISCILLA ARE PART OF A CROSS-CONTINENTAL TEAM DEVELOPING A DEVICE ENHANCING EXISTING MALARIA TESTS.

Joseph Conrad
Research Assistant Professor of Chemistry
 “These tests work great because they don’t require any electricity or clean water or advanced technical skills

“Some tests work better than others. So what we found was that our process could enhance the best tests to make them perform even better and it could enhance the lower performing tests and make them perform adequately.”

ALLOWING USERS TO GET CLEARER RESULTS IN MINUTES.
Joseph “It makes the existing malaria test, the malaria diagnostic test work more effectively.”

EVEN BEFORE A PATIENT SHOWS ANY SYMPTOMS.
Joseph “Not only do we get a darker line, but we get a clearer line that indicates a person is infected with malaria.”

EARLIER DETECTION WILL HELP PEOPLE GET TREATED FASTER—SAVING LIVES–AND

Priscilla – “we are actually preventing the transmission of the disease.” 4:04

BUT HOW DO YOU GET THIS DEVICE INTO THE HANDS OF THE PEOPLE WHO NEED IT MOST?  THIS 3-D PRINTER
Joseph “3-D printing in low resource environments is very unique.”

RESEARCHERS IN ZAMBIA WILL SIMPLY PRINT OUT THE DEVICES.

“We could actually prototype and design devices here in our labs at Vanderbilt and then transfer those design files over email or cloud storage to our collaborators in Zambia and they could print them out and the very next day go out and field test those designs.”

CONRAD AND HIS FAMILY JUST RETURNED FROM A MONTH-LONG TRIP TO ZAMBIA—SETTING UP THE 3-D PRINTER.

Joseph “We’ve got all the pieces in place to do good work.”

THAT PRINTER IS NOW AT THE MACHA RESEARCH INSTITUTE.

IT’S ALMOST 40 MILES FROM THE NEAREST PAVED ROAD.

Joseph “And they have a fully functioning molecular biology and chemistry lab intact out there.”

PRISCILLA WILL RETURN TO ZAMBIA TO WORK WITH LOCAL TEAMS FIGHTING MALARIA.

Priscilla “Go into the community rather than waiting for people to come into the facility.”

MALARIA ISN’T THE ONLY DISEASE THAT WILL USE THIS TECHNOLOGY.  WITH HELP FROM THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH,

CONRAD IS EXPANDING THIS RESEARCH TO IMPROVE H-I-V TESTS– AND IT COULD HELP FIGHT EBOLA.

“Those global initiatives are gearing up right when our technology is showing promise.”

JOSEPH—A LONGTIME PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER IN ZAMBIA—WANTS TO HELP THE COUNTRY THAT MEANS SO MUCH TO HIM.

Joseph “I’m excited personally to sort of come full circle from my life as a volunteer… working with people and a country that is still very close to me.”

FOR PRICILLA—IT’S ABOUT CHANGING THE FUTURE OF HER HOMELAND.

Priscilla “They’ll be proud to say their mom was actively involved in the process.”

THE PROCESS OF SAVING LIVES.

FOR VUCAST, I’M AMY WOLF.

https://www.malarianomore.org/ http://www.vanderbilt.edu/VZNIGHT

TAG: Learn how you can help fight malaria on malaria-no-more-dot-org. Follow the researchers in the Vanderbilt-Zambia Network For Innovation In Global Health Technologies on vanderbilt-dot-edu-slash-vz night.

Work funded by the Fogarty International Center at the National Institutes of Health.

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