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New Genetic Discovery could Improve Diagnosis of Childhood TB

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Dr. Suzanne Anderson during an examination exercise. A distinctive genetic ‘signature’ found in the blood of children with tuberculosis (TB) offers new hope for improved diagnosis of the disease, reveals a  recently published study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 

 

It is hoped that the findings could be used to develop cheap, quick and effective diagnostic test. The study which was conducted in Malawi, Kenya, and South Africa, showed that the disease can be identified in over 80 percent of cases by looking at 51 specific genes in the blood of affected children. By examining blood samples of children to see which genes were activated or suppressed in those with the disease, the researchers found that TB could be distinguished from other diseases.

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High burden of schistosomiasis in pre-school-age children in Chikhwawa district

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PHD StudentDaily use of water like this increase risk of bilhaziaA newly published paper on schistosomiasis in children, by Dr. Helen Poole and colleagues, has found a considerable burden of the disease in young children in Chikhwawa district, highlighting the need for a more in-depth evaluation of the scale of the problem in young children in Malawi. Young children are currently not included in the national Malawi schistosomiasis control programme, which provides mass drug treatment with praziquantel (MDA) to school-aged children only.

Dr Helen Poole (who came to MLW as an LSTM MSc student) and MLW field staff examined pre-school-age children (PSAC) below 5 years of age and their mothers in Chikhwawa district. They found that approximately half of the examined pre-school-age children were infected and identified both urogenital and intestinal forms.

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Similarities between the eye retina and brain could help understanding of Cerebral Malaria

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Figure 1 low res 2In a newly published review paper on cerebral malaria in children, Dr. Ian MacCormick and colleagues, conclude that the retina could be a useful tool to better understand cerebral malaria and may lead to improved treatment.


Cerebral malaria is a dangerous illness for children in Malawi, and a frequent cause of death. Despite many years of research, it is still not entirely clear what happens in cerebral malaria that causes some children to die while others survive. This is partly because it is difficult to study the brain - the brain is inside the skull and it is not easy to reach with a microscope or other tools often used in medical research.