Diagonestics for the developing World
Diagonestics for the developing World
Diagnostics appears to be the most essential component that needs to be integrated with any healthcare practice, concerning issues ranging from early detection of diseases to administering prompt and effective treatment. The standard diagnostic facilities that are currently being deployed are not only inadequate in addressing pertinent challenges specific to the developing and the under-developed world, but are also often turn out to be restricted in addressing the needs of the developed community. Moreover, the available healthcare facilities are grossly inaccessible to the rural and economically backward population, predominant in the developing world. Furthermore, the standard laboratory-based diagnostic protocols are labour intensive, time consuming, require elaborate infrastructure and significant volumes of costly chemicals, and expert on-field pathologists. Hence, in resource-limited settings, such diagnostic processes are restricted to the concerned population from accessing quality healthcare. In such scenarios, extreme environmental conditions and lack of trained staff pose serious challenge to provide comprehensive primary healthcare that include timely diagnosis, intervention, and management of diseases.
It has now been realized that innovative, low cost but effective point-of-care diagnostic technologies may be a solution in this direction with significant humanitarian, social and economic benefits. Delivery of primary care locally has important implications. For example, it is estimated that one third of the maternal deaths in the developing world occur due to anaemia. This can be corrected through iron-folic acid supplementation through a primary care centre. Consider a situation when a patient located in a resource-limited place is suffering from an ailment that necessitates rapid diagnostics. In the present scenario, the patient needs to be transported to a primary healthcare centre (may be located far off). Thereafter, collected physiological samples are transported to sophisticated laboratories for elaborate analysis. Often this is not well-affordable. Further, by the time the test results are available, the patient's condition may become far from being critical due to elaborate time-consuming investigations.
On contrary, consider a small hand-held device, which requires small amount of physiological sample (blood/ urine/ saliva/ sweat/ tear) for preliminary diagnosis. The device may be integrated with a smartphone (or similar handheld device with the relevant functionalities) for rapid and easy diagnosis (both qualitative and quantitative) of any suspected disease.
Despite advances in the related technological domain, products based on such technologies have rarely been translated into industrial practice. On the other hand, in pathological diagnostics, there is a dire need of affordable and robust technologies which can provide rapid and on-spot diagnostics, with minimal consumption of physiological samples and chemicals.
Point-of-care diagnosis has seen the recent advances worldwide, with initial application in healthcare industries where there are lesser constraints in terms of skills and environment as compared to developing countries. To improve the dismal state of current healthcare settings in a major part of the global population, there is an urgent need to adopt alternative diagnostic tools and/or protocols. Emphasis is now shifting towards extreme point-of-care solutions to address the striking demand for effective healthcare where it is needed most. As per the recent criteria set by world healthcare organization (WHO), the present point-of-care diagnosis technology should be Affordable, Sensitive, Specific, User friendly, Rapid, Robust, Equipment free and Deliverable to end users.
Although a few portable pathological diagnostic devices have already been commercialized (e.g. glucometer, malaria strips, pregnancy kits etc.) and seem to have good response in terms of on-field testing, detection of very trace amount of bio-analytes is still found as a challenge and therefore needs significant improvement in terms sensitivity. Technologists have demonstrated the usage of sophisticated instrumentation for improving the quantification limit, but it increases the involved expenses of the diagnosis. Further, automation for result analysis, multiplexing (i.e., simultaneous detection of target diseases), integrating with a powering systems and environmental control, as well as integrating with a data-driven primary healthcare decision making system is still a challenge. With unique validation employing clinical samples, we provide a generic solution to this end, through our generic Med-Colorimeter that may be suitably customized to have disease specific functionalities, given a colorimetric protocol on hand.
The unique features of the instrument are as follows
(1) Ultra-low cost fabrication of the pathological platform with the aid of a simple office printer or a Table top CNC machine
(2) Detecting multiple diseases simultaneously in a single paper cartridge, deploying only one drop of blood/ urine saliva.
(3) Improved functionality from limited resource settings.
1. A Portable Paper-Based Microfluidic Platform for Rapid Diagnosis of Antimicrobial Susceptibility Assays
2. A 'Paper-And-Pencil'-Based Diagnostic Kit for Ready and Simultaneous Detection of One Or Multiple Analytics