Project Lead(s): Sanjay Sharma
The lack of access to good, quality diagnostics contributes to the enormous health burden in rural India and the developing world, where infectious diseases are major causes of death.
Each year, more than 2 million people die of malaria, 4 million of acute respiratory infections, and 5.8 million from HIV and tuberculosis (TB).
Present diagnostic approaches require either that patients travel long distances for testing or for samples to be transported to labs.
The team set out to develop a cost-effective, remote diagnostic device that could perform automated microscopy and colorimetry-based biochemical tests, requiring only limited operating skills.
Such an approach would make diagnostics affordable and accessible to 90% of rural patients through the use of existing technology-enabled networks.
The project was a first step towards developing and combining automated microscopy, multi-wavelength colorimetry, a rapid-test reader, centrifuge, image processing and chemistry on a single platform that could be integrated with an existing electronic medical record and remote health consultation service delivery channel.
The project was able to successfully design and develop three different device prototypes from the ground up: one to scan microscopic slides for interpretations, another one to read and interpret rapid point-of-care tests and a colorimeter for reagent-based testing.
The image processing algorithm for the point-of-care rapid test reader was able to read true positive results for multiple tests, with a range of concentrations. Testing was conducted for hCG, HEPA, dengue fever, urinary luteinizing hormone (LH), HIV, syphilis and malaria.
All the positive and negative samples of these concentrations were correctly analyzed by the device and algorithm, as read by the trained human reader.
The readings using the scan were compared to a routinely used scanner, the standard Biotek, and found to be comparable.
For automated microscopy, the prototype model consists of tri-axes movement platform and images are captured through a high-resolution MD130 camera, with 400X magnification, and a microscopic light arrangement provided by a halogen lamp with condenser and director devices.
The team has applied for grant funding from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India, for validation and testing of the product, including a point-of-care optical reader.