Searching for Diseases and Cures

Summary: Scientists are devising new methods to detect viruses with relative certainty.

Part of the challenge that comes with treating a disease like malaria is being able to track the infection before the patient succumbs to it. In these battles of time, every hour counts and more effort is being put into solutions that allow techs to test and identify infections under adverse conditions. Using a molecular beacon probe, techs can identify certain bacteria or viruses by literally lighting them up under a microscope.

The Science of Detection

One major obstacle that stands in the way of doctors, especially those in areas where medicine is scarce, is identifying a virus inside a patient’s body. Without proper identification, the doctor is really doing guesswork to try and figure out what the problem is. Guesswork can harm the patient through unintended side effects, but it carries a much larger toll in third world countries.

In these smaller cities and towns, medicine is hard to come by and doctors don’t have the luxury of guessing at what might be the issue. They also may not have access to a well-developed lab that can deliver test results in a timely manner, which means patients might succumb to the disease before a proper diagnosis is made.

One method to get around that involves a fluorescent label with the ability to identify a disease. Under a microscope, scientists can notice changes in color, which give a positive identification with relative certainty. This is a much safer, and in some cases faster method of diagnosis then sending results off to a lab.


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