Warm regards from APOPO! We hope this finds you well.
We have just passed our halfway point in the validation study we are doing with the TB HeroRATS and wanted to fill you in on the results. As many of you know, our HeroRATS are currently acting as a second opinion for Tuberculosis suspected patients at 4 of the best hospital clinics in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Between January 5, 2008 and July 19, 2008 the HeroRATS have screened (or sniffed) samples from 4,663 patients. They found 129 people who had active TB but were missed by microscopy.
Given that 1 person with active TB can infect 10-15 people each year, HeroRATS have enabled 129 people to be diagnosed early, receive treatment, and potentially save an additional 1,290 - 1,935 from contracting TB. Additionally, given these results it can be said that case findings in these 4 centers has been increased by 2.76%.
While these are very exciting figures, it should be reiterated that the real strength of the HeroRATS as a screening tool is their skill of rapid detection. The current bottleneck remains that microscopy is a slow process, with a lab technician only screening 20 samples a day. In comparison, 1 HeroRAT can evaluate 40 samples in 10 minutes (the equivalent of 2 days work for a lab technician).
(While APOPO is still in the validation phase (in the process of scientifically proving the HeroRATS are capable of screening Tuberculosis) these findings are encouraging. Final validation results are expected to be complete by March of 2009).
We look forward to sharing future reults of the study, and more so the impact our HeroRATS are making on the lives of people here in Tanzania. They call TB the poor man's disease becuase it most often affects people living in close quarters in slums, prisons, and refugee camps. We are grateful to be getting closer to proving the rats can make a real difference, as we will then have the opportunity to reach out to these communities on a much bigger scale.
Your support really does make a difference. Thank you again and we look forward to hearing from you and sharing upcoming results.
Courtney and the HeroRAT team