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Test for sleeping sickness developed and manufactured by ITM

For decades, a sleeping sickness test has been used all over the world that ITM not only developed but also manufactures to this day.
tsetse fly

The tsetse fly, vector of trypanosoma

The cause of sleeping sickness is trypanosoma, a parasite that is transmitted by the tsetse fly. Without treatment, the parasite penetrates the brain, causing death. Animals can also contract sleeping sickness.

At the end of the 20th century, the number of new cases of human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) took on epidemic proportions. Thanks to detection and treatment campaigns, this number could be reduced to less than 10,000 cases per year, primarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Screening met behulp van de CATT test in het dorpje Bangumi

A prominent tool for detection

Early detection is key to combat trypanosomiasis. The CATT, a test developed by ITM at the end of the 1970s, makes this a possibility. It was the incentive of parasitologist Nestor Van Meirvenne that contributed to the procedure, and the CATT grew to become the (only usable) field test for detecting sleeping sickness on a large scale in West and Central Africa. Because the production process is laborious and not commercially viable, the pharmaceutical sector has little to no interest in manufacturing the test. To this day, ITM develops it itself, having supplied various organisations with many millions of test kits.

Marleen Boelaert 02 HR

Our commitment is never-ending

ITM has never abandoned sleeping sickness. Researchers such as Marleen Boelaert, Epco Hasker and Philippe Büscher are working with local and international partners to eliminate trypanosomiasis in the DRC. They are supported by the Federal Government of Belgium and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In May, 2014, ITM made an important contribution by developing a fast 15-minute test for detecting the illness in first-line treatment.

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