Ebola is a world crisis that has caught the attention of authorities from every country. It is a serious illness that has claimed the lives of far too many people, especially in Africa. Ebola outbreaks are mainly caused by a late detection of the virus, therefore early detection would mean quicker isolation of infected individuals thus preventing outbreaks. This is the vision of the Ugandan scientist, Misaki Wayengera, who developed a rapid diagnostic test that can detect Ebola proteins in less than five minutes.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 27 000 cases and more than 11 000 deaths have been reported, making it the largest known outbreak of Ebola in history.
Wayengera started developing the test in 2013 and after countless efforts to get financial support, the determined scientist managed to secure funding from a non-profit initiative supported by the Canadian government, known as Grand Challenges Canada. In that same year, Wayengera and his team were awarded CAN$1.5 million.
“We are using different tools to identify the unique areas which produce an immune response so that when someone is infected, he or she produces antibodies against the area,” explains Wayengera. “When they break out in rural areas and samples have to be moved, there is risk of infecting other people in the process of transfer and yet if this simple test was developed, it would have helped in early detection,” he adds.
Congratulations to Wayengera and his research team for this breakthrough. We wish him all the best and hope that the Ugandan government will support this initiative through funding. Africa is the home of Innovations!