Neglected Tropical Diseases
Product or technological
Proof of concept
Yaws is caused by Treponema pallidum subsp pertenue, a subspecies of the organism that causes syphilis. Yaws presents as lesions of the skin, bone and cartilage and without treatment it can lead to gross deformities and disabilities. The disease is restricted to deprived communities where the poorest people live and primarily affects children living in densely populated, rural areas where sanitation is absent. The need for same day diagnosis and treatment is important due to difficulties in follow-ups in these communities. Yaws is effectively treated with single dose azithromycin but eradication is constrained by the lack of effective diagnostics. Clinical diagnosis is currently unreliable and the organism cannot be cultured. Serological methods are also unable to distinguish yaws from syphilis while molecular methods are expensive and not readily available.
Laud Anthony Basing is a microbiologist based in Ghana. His PhD with Professor Yaw Adu-Sarkodie of KNUST in Ghana focused on interventions to eradicate yaws which is endemic in Ghana. He is receiving his training in Biomedical Engineering at the Linnes Global Health Technologies Lab at Purdue University in Indiana. He is the founder of Incas Diagnostics, a company that produces point of care tests for Africa. The Rapid Molecular Test is a molecular-based point of care test solution for yaws. The current expensive and complicated equipment used for the test has been reduced into a much simpler device that can be easily and effectively administered in the field. A swab sample from the patient is mixed with the reagents provided in a test tube. The tube is then placed in a water bath for 30 minutes. The result is visual and indicated by the number of pink lines that are visible to the eye. WHO has earmarked yaws for eradication by 2020 and this test kit would greatly impact the yaws eradication drive in endemic countries.