21 August 2016
Malaria is one of the leading causes of death among infants in sub-Sahara Africa – a child dies of malaria every minute.
Unfortunately, many of the victims arrive too late to the hospital or are not able to afford therapeutic method of treatment.
Last year, there were 214 million cases of malaria in which 438,000 people.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Africa bears the brunt of the global burden of malaria.
In 2015, 88 per cent of all cases and 90 per cent of all the deaths it caused globally occurred in the African Region.
Nigeria is one of the most affected countries in Africa. Others include Ghana, Uganda, Democratic Repbulic of Congo, and Tanzania.
And, as well as human life, malaria exacts a significant financial and social toll at both individual and national levels.
According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, the direct costs (illnesses, treatment, premature death, etc.) are estimated to be at least 12 billion dollars per year. Mortality can be as high as 20 per cent.
Severely affected patients are treated with intravenous drugs and stay in hospital for an average of four to five days. They are, by a long way, the most expensive patients to treat.
Furthermore, many of the victims are children, pregnant women and travelers.
The major concern for scientists is about drug resistant strains of malaria.
Today, three of the five strains of the disease that affect humans can resist antimalarial drugs and they’re spreading fast.
With this in mind, MediSieve is developing a ground-breaking drug-free malaria treatment. They have invented the MediSieve Filter, a magnetic sieve that physically removes malaria-infected blood cells directly from a patient’s bloodstream.
Red blood cells infected with a malaria parasite have magnetic properties. This enables the MediSieve Filter to capture them without affecting healthy cells.
The process is similar to dialysis in that a patient’s blood is continuously circulated through a magnetic filter device via an external blood loop.
Red blood cells infected with the malaria parasite are captured in the filter. The healthy blood returns to the patient unharmed.
Initial trials show that the MediSieve Filter could extract up to 90 per cent of infected cells from a person with malaria in under four hours.
Treatment with the device involves no drugs or chemicals, but is intended as a complement to existing medicines.
This means the MediSieve Filter could provide economic as well as health benefits to healthcare systems and to patients.
Children and pregnant women are among the groups who could benefit most with the MediSieve Filter.
The device could also help patients manage malaria and keep symptoms at bay indefinitely, which would be a particularly welcome development for people with drug-resistant malaria.
Dr. George Frodsham founded MediSieve in 2015 with £350,000 in seed funding from angel investors. Dr. George is a physicist and engineer with a Ph.D in biochemical engineering from University College London.
Author: Dotun Obatuyi
My name is Dotun Obatuyi (Dotunoba), I hail from Osun state, a public health scientist (monitoring and evaluation specialist), my keen interests are researching, critiquing and writing feature articles on health, science and technology as well as issues around the globe.