Focus on brain-eating amoeba

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SUNWAY University Master in Science in Life Sciences student Shobana Gabriel Jabanathan (pix) is determined to raise awareness on the prevalence of brain-eating amoebae in Malaysian water sources.

“My research aims to develop molecular methods for rapid detection and to determine the occurrence of brain-eating amoebae (Acanthamoeba spp., Balamuthia mandrillaris and Naegleria fowleri) in public water supplies in Malaysia.

“The brain-eating amoebae is known to cause severe life-threatening infections which affect the eyes, skin, lungs and brain,” she explained.

The public – including many physicians, are unaware of their presence, she said.

“Ensuring clean water supply systems are a serious global issue. It’s worrying that these amoebae can be found in water, soils, and even contact lens solution.

“I have interest in this topic since we Malaysians spend a lot of time indulging in water activities so there’s a higher risk of infections due to amoebae,” she said.

Shobana, who received the “Best Research Poster Award” at the Second International Conference for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (ICMBB) 2017 for her research, said the ICMBB was a great experience as it gave her the opportunity to exchange ideas with researchers and scientists from other countries.

Held at Persatuan Alumni Universiti Malaya (PAUM) Clubhouse in Kuala Lumpur, the 2nd International Conference for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (ICMBB) 2017 aimed to unite scientists with industry experts in an effort to translate basic research into practical applications to benefit humanity.

Organised by the Malaysian Society for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (MSMBB),the two-day conference covered multidisciplinary topics on advances in molecular biology and biotechnology in agriculture, environment, bioenergy and biorefinery, and medicine. The Conference is co-organised by the Asian Federation of Biotechnology Malaysia Chapter (AFOB-MC) and Monash University Malaysia.

Of her experience with the MSc in Life Sciences programme at Sunway University, Shobana said the programme encourages students to explore and discover new aspects in the research field.

“We also have opportunities to connect with researchers and scientists from various countries through various conferences. One of the best things I gained from the programme is the unconditional sharing of knowledge and skills from experienced professors,” added Shobana.

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The Petri Dish is malaysia’s first dedicated science newspaper. Through The Petri Dish we aim to engage the public on the latest developments on biotechnology.