Canadian scientists develop blood test

Nov. 28, 2005 at 4:04 PM
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MONTREAL, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Canadian scientists say they are developing a safety test to check for parasitic diseases in a patient's blood.

Researchers at the National Reference Center for Parasitology, based at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, are developing what they say will be a comprehensive and inexpensive blood safety test for all major parasitic blood diseases.

The test, currently in final stages of development, also will improve the safety of transfusions, which are one of the ways parasitic conditions are spread. The scientists say the new test will lead to an increase in the number of blood samples checked for parasites, and improve turnaround time -- a critical issue in life and death cases.

"Anyone can be bitten by an insect while on holiday and unknowingly contract a parasitic disease," said Dr. Momar Ndao, NRCP laboratory director. Routine testing of donated blood for diseases such as HIV and hepatitis saves many lives each year, but parasitic conditions often avoid detection because tests to identify them are often complex and expensive, he said.

The NRCP is one of only two laboratories in North America, capable of conducting tests for rare parasitic conditions.

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