Greek re­searcher’s team gets funds to fight Ebola

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY IOANNA FOTIADI

Amid global con­cern over the spread of the Ebola virus, Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron sparked some op­ti­mism after pledg­ing a fur­ther 1.34 mil­lion pounds in re­search fund­ing at the G20 sum­mit in Aus­tralia this week­end.

Among the five projects to re­ceive fi­nan­cial back­ing from the UK gov­ern­ment and Well­come Trust is the Ebo­laCheck re­search project, which aims to test bod­ily flu­ids such as saliva to de­tect the virus in a sin­gle process. It is the brain­child of Dr Ster­gios Moschos, a pro­fes­sor of in­dus­trial biotech­nol­ogy and bio­chem­istry at the Univer­sity of West­min­ster.

The ef­fort be­gan in July, by which time WHO statis­tics had recorded 779 cases and 481 deaths over­all from the virus. A team led by Dr Moschos (which also in­cludes the deputy di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Health Eng­land, Pro­fes­sor Miles Car­roll, the chief of USAMRIID’s di­ag­nos­tics sys­tems di­vi­sion, Dr David Nor­wood, and sev­eral lab­o­ra­tory mi­cro­bi­ol­o­gists from West Africa) sub­mit­ted the re­quest for fund­ing.

“I have been work­ing with a biotech firm cre­at­ing di­ag­nos­tic ma­chines and for the past cou­ple of years we were study­ing pul­monary and oral mi­crobes us­ing a new de­vice that I de­signed,” Moschos said. After a se­ries of ex­ten­sive dis­cus­sions with Ebola ex­pert Dr Ed­ward Wright, the Greek sci­en­tist de­cided to join the anti-Ebola fight.

“Un­til now, lab­o­ra­tory re­sults would take days to be re­leased and as a re­sult the pa­tient, who may live far from the hos­pi­tal, would have al­ready trans­mit­ted the virus,” Moschos said.

The new process would pro­vide re­sults within 40 min­utes, which is over eight times faster than some ex­ist­ing lab­o­ra­tory tech­niques, and in­crease the chances of sur­vival.

“The ma­chine is like an evo­lu­tion of sep­sis de­tec­tion de­vices at Bri­tish hos­pi­tals,” Moschos said. “It will be very sim­ple to op­er­ate and suit­able for ar­eas with­out elec­tric­ity,” he said.

The project will be funded with 620,000 pounds (750,000 euros) and the first de­vice should be ready to run in Jan­uary. “In May we should de­liver three de­vices to Sierra Leone and New Guinea. We should have made 10 de­vices by the end of 2015,” he said.

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