Dengue infects at least 390 million people every year. Around half of the population is at risk of contracting some form of the disease, according to The World Health Organization (WHO). Although there is not a specific treatment for Dengue, early detection of the virus and adequate treatment of patients cuts down its mortality spectrum. Keeping this problem in sight, the molecular biologist, researcher, and Chief of Research and Development of Wama Diagnostica, Maria Angélica de Camargo, decided to concentrate on accelerating early detection as much as possible. To achieve this, she developed a protein which is the core of a new, highly efficient and specialized test used in the detection of Dengue. As a result, Camargo has been awarded a winner in the Latin American Innovators Under 35 from the MIT Technology Review LATAM edition.
After the arrival of the zika virus in America, the efficiency of diagnostic testing for dengue plummeted due to the molecular similarities between the two illnesses. Camargo points out, ”It's important to identify when you are infected with dengue or with the zika virus so you can be treated correctly as soon as possible. It's why we developed this test specific to Dengue, to avoid false positives on people infected with zika and vise versa." Another important fact to consider is the price of the test which is very low compared to the current technology available like molecular testing.
The clinical breakthrough attained by Camargo has been distributed through all of Brazil to help fight against Dengue, a virus that within the last year has divided by six along the Brazilian territories. According to the Health Ministry, almost 600 fatalities have been caused by this virus in less than eight months.
The director for Research, Innovation and Development of Biolinks Laboratories, Perú,Ysabel Montoya Piedra who is also a member of the jury for the “2019 Latin American Innovators Under 35” voiced that “this project is very good, necessary, and has incredible impact.” About Camargo, the director expressed that “she is definitely committed to her goal and her ability to combine the business perspective with technology is remarkable.”