TB Rat

Esperanza para la salud mundial en el año 2017

HONG KONG – Si damos una mirada retrospectiva al año 2016, puede parecer que no existe mucho motivo de celebración. Únicamente en términos de salud mundial, el año pasado aparentemente fue un año de implacable tragedia. Sin ni siquiera considerar las historias de hospitales bombardeados en zonas de conflicto, el año pasado el virus zika emergió como una creciente amenaza. También se proliferaron los microbios resistentes a los antibióticos, las llamadas “superbacterias”, y hubo rebrotes continuos de fiebre amarilla y un rebrote de poliomielitis en Nigeria, país que anteriormente había sido declarado como libre de polio. Se desvanecieron las esperanzas de lograr una vacuna contra el virus respiratorio sintical. Y, en Europa, se incrementó la incidencia de muertes relacionadas con el alcohol.

Sin embargo, enterrados entre todas estas historias sombrías, se pueden encontrar algunos inspiradores avances en el ámbito de la salud mundial durante el 2016.

El primero tuvo lugar en Tanzania y Mozambique, donde a las ratas africanas, que previamente habían sido entrenadas por la ONG belga APOPO para detectar minas terrestres, se les asignó un nuevo propósito con el objetivo de ayudar en la lucha contra la tuberculosis (TB). Las ratas pasan por un proceso de entrenamiento minucioso por el cual se les introduce a varios estímulos, se les muestra cómo interactuar con las personas y se les enseña a detectar la tuberculosis en muestras de esputo (moco que se tose desde las vías respiratorias inferiores). Las ratas pueden detectar la tuberculosis con casi el 100% de precisión, aunque no pueden distinguir entre cepas normales y resistentes a fármacos.

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