Peru’s Cayetano Heredia University to be equipped with Latin America’s first molecular biology laboratory

Peru’s Cayetano Heredia University will be equipped with Latin America’s first molecular biology laboratory, to find treatments for complex health problems such as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, reported daily 24horaslibre on Tuesday.

Thanks to the University of California’s help, said Daniel Guerra, director of the Cayetano Heredia University’s laboratory, we will now be equipped with state-of-the-art optical tweezers.

Optical tweezers use light to manipulate microscopic objects as small as a single atom. The radiation pressure from a focused laser beam is able to trap small particles.

“Our first task will be to find a treatment for the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis that affects our country,” said Guerra.

“We can use our technique to test and monitor how (U.S. and internationally-manufactured) drugs affect the experimental bacteria molecule, until it is more effective in attacking the microbe that produces the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis,” said Guerra.

Tuberculosis, or TB, is a curable disease that kills millions in the developing world, offering a glaring example of global inequalities in access to health care.

Drugs to fight TB have existed for 50 years, and deaths from TB are extremely rare in developed countries. Yet, reports Partners in Health, or PIH, the disease kills 5,000 people each day, and nearly 2 million each year.

If TB patients do not take each medication at the prescribed time or are unable to complete the full course of treatment – most often because they are unable to pay for the medication – their tuberculosis may become resistant.

According to PIH, “over the past 15 years, incomplete TB treatments—due to shortages of medicines and medical personnel, civil disruptions, and socioeconomic barriers for patients—have led to a proliferation of strains of tuberculosis resistant to two or more TB medications.”

These strains, known as multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, or MDR-TB, are now present throughout many developing countries, such as Peru and Russia.

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