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Rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases is often the key in pinpointing an outbreak or starting treatment as soon as possible to improve chances of survival. Some of Seattle BioMed's work centers around creating new diagnostic tools or uncovering better ways to use current technology in order to speed diagnostics in the developing world.
Seattle BioMed scientists believe that their research could potentially lead to improved diagnostics for the trypanosomatid diseases: African sleeping sickness, leishmaniasis and Chagas' disease. The need is great. For example, the current form of diagnosis for African sleeping sickness is a lumbar puncture, which is both painful and time-consuming.
In addition, Seattle BioMed scientists are developing new ways to discover biomarkers – novel molecular “flags” that inform clinicians of ongoing or future disease. Current biomarker discovery projects are targeted to tuberculosis, malaria, amoebic dysentery, and other waterborne infectious diseases. Additional technologies have been developed that selectively detect viable, infective pathogens in water and food.