An Indiana University School of Medicine paediatrician, Dr Terry Vik, has been awarded one of three epidemiology grants from Alexâ Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer for a simple test to identify childhood leukaemia in western Kenya. Dr Vik is the principal investigator for the two-year award, which is worth US$199,000.
The idea uses a common lab test for detecting malaria parasites in a drop of blood. In addition to looking for malaria, the slide can also be studied to detect leukaemia cells in the same drop of blood. The project will test whether it is feasible to use the common malaria laboratory slide test to detect the rare condition of leukaemia. If the researchers can achieve this objective, they can then train technologists to detect it as well, and arrange for the referral of children to the hospital for treatment in a more expeditious manner.
The research is a joint project of Indiana University (IU) and the AMPATH Oncology Institute in conjunction with Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and the Moi University School of Medicine in Eldoret, Kenya. The IU School of Medicine has an existing partnership with Moi University and AMPATH (Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare).