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Researchers have developed a blood test that allows early diagnosis of sleeping sickness, the parasitic disease that affects half a million people each year in sub-Saharan Africa.

The test, described in The Lancet, checks blood samples for a 'signature' of proteins specific to the infection. Until now it has been difficult to detect the disease until an advanced stage of infection.

Untreated, sleeping sickness is usually fatal, and early diagnosis could help avoid unnecessary drug treatments and side effects. But critics say that the test is too high-tech to be practical for use in the field.

Link to full story on BBC Online

Link to research paper in The Lancet

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