Novel low cost diagnostic tools and their impact in Africa

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
PI: Jon Cooper

We will develop “origami” DNA-paper-based diagnostic with a new multiplexed visual readout in lateral flow (similar to pregnancy tests). Using papers of different porosities we will create fluid pathways where flow takes different times, enabling better assay integration and faster time-to-results, with less user intervention. We will also use novel low-cost ultra-high resolution imaging exploiting mobile phone technologies and working with social scientists we will demonstrate to the parents and children the value of diagnosis, treatment and control of transmission. Finally, working with established partners in Sierra Leone, Uganda and Rwanda we will explore health-economic models for the creation of a sustainable, not-for-profit entrepreneurial activity around the manufacture of a pipeline of diagnostic products in Africa. This will be delivered through seven objectives;

1. Manipulate paper matrices to improve the control of flow dynamics, integrating easier and faster sample processing of diagnostics for schistosomiasis and malaria detection resulting in visually read, quantitative, rapid, specific and sensitive formats

2. Develop new low-cost ultra-high resolution imaging using mobile phone technologies to create a new acousticoptic technology with objective-less imaging of microbes and parasite eggs

3. Develop additive manufacturing technologies to integrate paper based sample preparation with quantitative lateral flow assay

4. Validate the rapid, point of care tests through field trials in both rural and urban endemic environments in East (Uganda) and West Africa (Sierra Leone)

5. Measure the societal impact of the proposed research by collection of suitable, realistic, collectable metrics, on the potential impacts (including resources, health outcomes, employment and income) of the interventions and feed these into economic models estimating the cost-effectiveness of the technologies

6. Develop capacity strengthening and public engagement activities – building upon long standing relationships with the University of Makerere (Uganda), Ministry of Health (Uganda) and the University of Rwanda

7. Adapt and develop health economic models focusing on the potential long-term impact including the creation of a sustainable, not-for-profit entrepreneurial activity around the manufacture of diagnostic products in Africa. 

shutterstock_92229169 Uganda village 2.jpg