Reem Al Olaby, a graduate student at The American University and a team of research colleagues have created an advanced device to quickly, accurately, safely, and cost effectively screen hospital patients for drug allergies. “Current methodologies for drug allergy screening do not achieve high sensitivity and specificity, and the more accurate methods are expensive and time-consuming,” Al Olaby explained. “All of this makes drug allergy prediction not widely applied in clinical practice,” she added. The estimated total cost of the device is $20 million. Each year in the United States alone, more than 400 thousand patients suffer from drug allergies causing 5000 deaths, and incurring nearly $10 million in medical expenses. “I hope we could have the opportunity one day to see this product being used in all hospitals,” said Al Olaby. "If a device like this existed in Egypt and the Arab world, it will massively reduce deaths that results from anaphylactic shock due to giving drugs without knowing if the patient is allergic to it or not," explained Al Olaby. "What makes it suitable is that it will be of low cost and at the same time, easy to use by physicians and nurses," she added.
Al Olaby and her colleagues were named as one of the top three groups recognized at the fourth annual Novartis Biotechnology Leadership Camp in the United States from among 60 participants representing 27 countries at the camp. The camp is a three-day event designed for entrepreneurial, postgraduate students interested in biotechnology careers. It has been held in Switzerland, Japan, China and Taiwan over the past four years. Al Olaby, who is pursuing a masters’ degree in biotechnology at AUC, was invited to participate in this year’s event in the United States based on her academic excellence, professional focus and presentation skills.
“Being selected among the top three teams made me feel honored and satisfied that I succeeded in representing my country, AUC and my former faculty at Ain Shams University, and also proved that we have the qualifications that allow us to participate globally,” Al Olaby said.