by Sujatha Nanjundeshwara | 08 JAN 2018
WHO figures show that on a global scale, 250 million preschool-age children lack Vitamin A. To make matters worse, annually about 500,000 of these Vitamin A deficient children go blind and about half of them die within a year due to lack of immunity to fight other diseases.
"Vitamin A and iron deficiency affect more than one-third of the world's population” says Dr. Saurabh Mehta, associate professor of global health, epidemiology and nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences.
According to him, following have been the roadblocks in addressing this issue:
Early detection: If these micro nutrient deficiencies can be detected early, diets can be changed or supplemented, thereby preventing further complications.
Lack of access to sophisticated testing equipment: Developing countries lack access to sophisticated tools required for an early diagnosis.
To address this challenging global heath problem, University engineers and nutritionists set out to create a swift solution. Mehta, who was a senior author on this new research, was accompanied by Zhengda Lu, a doctoral candidate and another senior author, David Erickson a Sibley College Professor at Cornell's Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.
Some of the features of this device are:
It’s portable! It’s the size of a small lunchbox, so you can easily transport it to rural areas. It contains a blood sample test strip, similar to what diabetics use.
Multiple tests executed the same time! From an individual’s serum, the group found a way to include three types of antibodies to stick to specific biomarkers on the test strip.
Measure Eye health: Measure concentrations of retinol binding protein which are critical for good eyesight
To detect infections: C- reactive proteins are effective indicators of the presence of various infections
Check for anemia : Protein ferritin display hemoglobin levels
Rapid Tests! No more waiting for long hours; it’s a rapid test that takes just 15 minutes to complete.
Low cost solution! Cost is a prohibitive factor in several developing countries; this is no longer a factor here.
"We must address the micro nutrient problem at the individual level - which is a much easier task. The key to solving these micro nutrient deficiency problems is early detection and early intervention," said David Erickson.
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