Leprosy: Applying Modern Technologies in the Fight Against an Ancient Disease
Dr. Malcolm Duthie
Senior Researcher of infectious diseases Infectious Disease Research Institute
Scribe: Jenny Andrews Editor: Jim Kindsvater
Dr. Malcom Duthie, a Senior Researcher of infectious diseases with Seattle based Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI), engages in translational research to develop tools and intervention strategies for the prevention of neglected tropical diseases, including leprosy. Dr Duthie gave an overview with great graphics of Leprosy and how modern cutting technologies are being used in the fight against this ancient and generally misunderstood disease. Past President and District Governor Steve Lingenbrink gave a 3 minute run down of the upcoming FUN district conference in Coeur d’ Alene on May 3-5, which he encouraged all to attend. Dustin Wallin arrived in a strange running outfit and gave an impassioned plea tor each member to sign up volunteers for the BBRC 10K and for each member of BBRC to get runners signed up NOW. Robin Callan introduced BBRC Student of the Month Marta Picoto from Eastside Prep.
Girish Bhatia introduced Dr. Malcom Duthie, Senior Researcher of infectious diseases with Seattle based Infectious Disease Research Institute (IDRI). IDRI engages in translational research to develop tools and intervention strategies for the prevention of neglected tropical diseases. Among its research portfolio are various parasitic and bacterial infections, including leprosy. Dr Duthie gave an overview with great graphics of Leprosy and how modern cutting technologies are being used in the fight against this ancient and generally misunderstood disease. He gave a brief history of leprosy including its nature which attacks by infection and causes nerve damage. World wide there are about 12 Million people effected with 1.5 million new cases each year. Of those about 250,000 are severe cases . Both correctly diagnosing leprosy and treating it are difficult tasks. IDRI has developed and uses cutting-edge vaccine and diagnostic development techniques to build upon relatively recent breakthroughs in disease management and prevention to solve these problems.
Despite the great strides taken toward the elimination of leprosy over the last 2 decades, the disease has proved difficult to defeat. New case detection rates have stabilized over the last few years. However, currently diagnosis of leprosy depends on the appearance of clinical signs and symptoms. In many settings, particularly the poorest rural settings, where access to experienced doctors or nurses-let alone leprologists-is limited or entirely absent, patients are commonly misdiagnosed with other illnesses and then receive the wrong medical treatment. Delays in receiving the proper treatment for leprosy allow M. leprae to cause more damage to the body and also spread to cause more infections in the nearby community.
IDRI’s leprosy program, under the predominant funding of American Leprosy Mission, is focused on the development and production of a vaccine to interrupt transmission and disease severity. Using the rationale that the immune response of leprosy patients with low burdens of M. leprae (and healthy contacts) limits the replication of this bacterium, IDRI researchers have discovered targets of this response. Immunization with some of the identified proteins reduces the M. leprae burden in experimentally infected mice, revealing vaccine candidates that researchers are advancing toward clinical trial. To partner with vaccines, IDRI has also identified bacterial proteins that bind serum antibodies of patients with high bacterial burdens. These antibodies can be detected in advance of clinical symptoms, a significant critical development given the World Health Organization’s directive for early diagnosis and treatment to prevent disabilities. Dr Duthie graphically explained how adapted lab-based assays developed simple tests that can be used by unskilled personnel to achieve an objective diagnosis of leprosy within 15 minutes. These tests were recently registered in Brazil with a goal to be manufactured in third worlds in the near future. It is the belief of IDRI researchers that these simple tests can be utilized to improve surveillance, better understand the scale of the leprosy problem and direct efficient vaccination strategies that will lead
toward the long term goal to eliminate the disease world wide.
BBRC members had multiple questions and gave Dr Duthie enthusiastic applause when Wendi rose, handed a card to him and announced BBRC would donate 1000 pounds of fresh produce in his name to thank him for his presentation to BBRC. Jeff Cashman, Cashman Consulting & Investments were the proud BBRC sponsor who made this donation possible.
Future President Wendi Fischer stepped in during Pres.Chris’ “vacation” with opening music of “the Happy Song”. Invocation and pledge was done by new member Nic Wildman with David Bolson (10yr) introducing visiting
Rotarian Past DG Stan Dickison, and Guests: Martin Clavijo guest Brad Owens with BBRC Rotaract club, Christine Rose’s daughter Megan Addison., and guest Lori Morefield-Berg, Tom Smith guest ( BBRC scholarship winner Ela Tierney now attending Western Washington) and Colly Radford guest Oswald Norton. Michel Carter produced the expert audio visual effects and Bob Vallat acted as host.
Past President and District Governor Steve Lingenbrink gave a 3 minute run down of the upcoming FUN district conference in Coeur d’ Alene on May 3-5, which he encouraged all to attend. Pres. Elect Scott Sadler reminded us that the BBRC retreat will be conducted on the Saturday of the Dist. Conference.
Past Presidents Dick Brown and Kim Shrader congratulated BBRC on making 100% participation this year in Rotary Foundation giving (EREY program) . They then pulled to the podium, announced and handed out Rotary
Foundation awards for financial generosity given to Sadru Kabani, Tom Miller, Fred Barkman, Kai Pedersen, Ercan Turkarslan , Katherine DeSephano, Chris Ballard, Aisha Kabani, Ron Healey and Kim Shrader. Kim Sharder then brought BBRC’s TRF Commitee (Jeff Cashman,Jim Zidar, Dick Brown, Jean Thorsen, Cary Kopczynski, Jenny Andrews, Chuck Kimbrough, Rick Klobucher, Chuck Barnes, Brian Evison, Steve Vincent, Sadru Kabani, and Paul Martin) to the podium and thanked all for the hard work and this years successful “campaign”.
Dustin (Hollywood Hoffman) Wallin arrived in a strange running outfit (not Nike certified by a long stretch) and gave an impassioned plea tor each member to sign up volunteers <BellevueRun.com> for the BBRC 10K and for each member of BBRC to get runners signed up NOW. Dustin threatened to return in a even more repulsive outfit if BBRC members failed to get their
A game in action..This “show stopper” was followed by Christine Rose who announced 477+ runners and 71K raised to date and that team # 8 was in the fund raising lead.
Robin Callan followed with a much more sedate and
professional introduction of BBRC Student of the
Month Marta Picoto from Eastside Prep. She is an outstanding student with a broad array of community service since 6th grade. She gave an inspiring talk and had a large cheering section including her parents Carlos and Isabel Picoto, her brother Miguel, sister Maria and her grandparents Jorge and Tina Pereira.
” How wonderful is it that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” – Anne Frank