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Bedside testing for toxic alcohols

Alternative title: Pasientnær diagnostikk av metanolforgiftninger

Awarded: NOK 5.0 mill.

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Project Period:

2021 - 2023

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Every year thousands of people are poisoned by methanol ? adults and children, young and old - often affecting the poorest of the poor and whole communities. An unknown number of patients are dying, and some survive with brain damage or visual disturbances ranging from blurred vision to blindness. Since methanol is known to be ?the great imitator?, resembling many other medical conditions, the number of outbreaks reported is likely only ?the tip of the iceberg?: Numerous patients are anticipated dead, blind, or with brain damage without ever getting a diagnosis. Covid-19 has left a surprising additional death toll concerning people being poisoned by drinking hand sanitizers mixed in with methanol instead of ethanol. Despite the high morbidity and mortality seen with even limited amounts of methanol, effective and life-saving treatment exists but can only follow an early diagnosis: The clinical features where toxic alcohol poisoning should be ruled out are common medical conditions in the emergency department, but the current diagnosis of such poisonings is complex, expensive and slow. The availability of diagnostic equipment is very limited, especially where the patients usually appear in high numbers; in the low- and middle-income countries. Even developed countries rarely have specific analyzes available in the short-term notice, which is crucial for a beneficial outcome. Therefore, we are developing a point-of-care diagnostic device to diagnose methanol poisoning from a single drop of blood in 2-4 minutes. With no requirements for laboratory, laboratory competent personnel, or even electricity, the tiny device has the potential for saving thousands of lives globally. The test is sensitive, specific, and stable at room temperature. With metabolic acidosis (acidic blood) of unknown origin being a common feature in all hospitals worldwide, the test can work as a screening tool, rapidly eliminating methanol as the cause of the symptoms.


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