06 January 2011
By Pushpa Narayan
From Space Debris to Dying Coral Reefs—the Best Brains Have a Solution for Almost Everything These strips will help You in Early Diagnosis
On Wednesday, when the brain behind these dip strips, Dr Srinivas Pentyala, Director, Translational Research, Stony Brook Medical Centre, USA, spoke about his research on antibodies at the Indian Science Congress, many smiled.
"These are different strips for different diseases. But all these strips work on a simple principle just like pregnancy home test kits. They require a swab from the inner cheek or urine sample. The results are known in less than 10 minutes," said Dr Pentyala.
For instance, the smoking detection kit sold over the counter in the US pharmacies contains a strip that requires to be dipped in urine. "The nicotine in cigarettes breaks down into a chemical called cotinine. This cotinine stays in the blood stream for at least 12 days and is released through the urine.
The dip picks it up," he said. Similarly, in the HIV and TB test, a mucus swab is used. "This test can detect the infection in less than three days. In the conventional HIV ELISA test, we screen for antibodies. The antibody takes some weeks to develop. Here, it is the reverse. We use the antibodies to screen for the antigen. That way, we also minimise false positive," he said.
Dr Pentyala began researching on strip tests four years ago, when his hospital in New York was slapped with a legal notice by a woman. "She was in labour and junior anesthetists gave her an epidural injection to numb the pain. The needle went deeper and punctured the brain membrane. The cerebral spine fluid began to leak and soon the patient was paralysed below the hip," he said. When the issue came up for the audits, doctors said it could have been avoided if they had known there was a fluid leak. It was then that Dr Pentyala began his research.
He warned that these test only supplement the existing diagnostics like ultrasound, CT scans, biopsy or ELISA. "It’s an indicator. There is also a one percent risk of false negatives," he said.
In India, Dr Pentyala said he has been talking to several companies for manufacturing these strips. "The manufacturing cost in the US is $1. And we sell the for $80. If we manufacture it in India, the cost will come down to 18. So, we will price it around 50 per strip," he said.
Quick to Catch
- The smoking detection kit contains a strip that requires to be dipped in urine. Nicotine in cigarettes breaks down into a chemical called cotinine. This stays in the blood stream for at least 12 days and is released through urine. The dip picks it up
- In the HIV and TB test, the swab from the mucus is used. This test can detect the infection in less than three days
- A similar dip test has been developed to diagnose prostrate cancer
Remnants of upper stages of rockets that separate in the space constitute 45% to 50% of space debris. There are more than 30,000 objects of more than 10cm across strewn around earth’s immediate space
- A simple strip test developed by a US-based scientist will help you in detecting many ailments like HIV and TB right at home
- The study undertaken by Calcutta University is exploring the potential of Tulsi as a contraceptive