Dr. Sakarindr Bhumiratana, President of the National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) announced the success of research team developing the world’s first thalassemia strip test in The NSTDA Annual Conference (NAC 2007) taking place from 28-30 March 2007 at Thailand Science Park.
The test, which can detect thalassemia carriers within a few minutes, was developed by a research team, led by Dr. Watchara Kasinrerk, from Faculty of Associated Medical Sciences at Chiang Mai University after three-year searching for method development. The project received funding support from BIOTEC/NSTDA.
At first development stage, the team put a great effort into finding an antibody that would help detect the traits of a thalassemia carrier and finally they found one in the cells of a mouse. Then, they reproduced the antibody from the mouse cells and used it to develop the strip test. The strip has 100-per-cent sensitivity, 98.5-per-cent specificity and 99.07-per-cent accuracy, based on the test result 100 samples conducted at the Thalassaemia Research Centre at Mahidol University.
The strip test will allow doctors to easily detect whether people carry the alpha thalassemia trait. Instead of sending blood samples to a laboratory, which requires a high-technology testing process and takes at least three hours, the new developed strip test will facilitate the testing process since doctors can put a blood sample on the strip and read the result in just three minutes. The strip test, manufactured by i+MED Laboratories Co., Ltd who obtained the technology license from BIOTEC/NSTDA, is now available for commercial used at 100 Baht per set while in the past the cost is about 1,000 - 1,200 Baht.
A blood test to check for thalassemia is important, especially for couples planning to have children. If doctors find that either parent is a carrier, they will recommend the couple avoid pregnancy and this helps early screening of children who would be prone to thalassemia. Around 1 per cent of the Thai population suffers from thalassemia, while around 40 per cent are carriers of the thalassemia trait. However, thalassemia appears not only in Thailand but in Southeast Asia, China, India, the Middle East and in the Mediterranean region as well and thus the development of the strip test will help many places to better control of the disease.
(L-R) Dr. Sakarindr Bhumiratana, President of NSTDA; Dr. Prasit Palittapongarnpim, Deputy Director of BIOTEC; Dr. Watchara Kasinrerk and Dr. Chatchai Tayapiwatana, Faculty of Associated Medical Sciences at Chiang Mai University