Rapid diagnostics emerging for Chagas disease
- Doctors Without Borders is optimistic about the emergence of a half-dozen rapid diagnostic tests for Chagas disease. Although Chagas disease disease kills 12,000 people per year in Latin America, diagnostic and treatment options are decades old.
- Chagas is an infectious disease, which is transmitted through a bug endemic to Latin America.
- In order to have a blood test, people in affected areas have to travel to a hospital.
For forty years, there have been no new drugs for Chagas disease, nor have their been any ways to rapidly diagnose the disease. As a result, people are often infected for years before they start to develop chronic health problems associated with the disease. However, there are now six rapid diagnostic tests in development that have been tested on more than 2,000 people in five Latin American countries and have proven to be highly effective and reliable.
Doctors Without Borders is pushing for approval and availability of the tests as a way to increase diagnosis and decrease the morbidity associated with Chagas disease. They are also hoping the the development of a new drug to treat Chagas, as the only option currently has very severe side effects. Chagas is on the World Health Organization's list of 17 neglected tropical drugs, but if everything progresses as hoped, it may no longer be on the list within several years.