Novel Test For Detecting Zika, Dengue, Chikungunya In minutes
Till Date, any conventional methods used to test for infectious diseases typically takes time for sample collection and analysis. A Newly developed paper-based test, which works similarly to an over-the-counter pregnancy test, is able to detect Zika, dengue 1-4, and chikungunya at the point of care in a jiffy with accuracy, also at a very reasonable cost. Presently, the viruses causing these deadly diseases is indistinguishable in symptomatic patients without the use of expensive equipment, making the whole process make a hole in the victim’s pockets.
This novel product has been developed by an MIT Tata Center funded research team led by MIT Professor Lee Gehrke and collaborator Irene Bosch. They later formed a startup – E25Bio to commercialize the venture. It also bagged funding from MIT-backed venture company – The Engine to commercialize its technology.
The startup’s rapid diagnostic evaluation marks a jump in arthropod-borne virus diagnostics. Each of these distinct investigations requires specific next steps in patient care, so a fast, accurate, low-cost method is a vital part of the puzzle in resource-constrained communities. Elimination of cross-reactivity in the test also reduces the risk of misdiagnosis, which often contributes to inaccurate or inadequate treatment in the best case and passing in the worst case. A mobile program accompanies E25Bio’s test, which catalogs the results of the test as per time and location. This real-time data could potentially enable authorities to take preventative actions to control the spread of disease and prevent an epidemic.
One of the lead scientists of the project – Irene Bosch being from Venezuela is much familiar with the catastrophic consequences these infectious disease outbreaks bring upon the victims & their families due to lack of pocket-friendly detection methods & treatments. She further described her inspiration behind developing this novel technique and said, “In cell biology, there are fascinating biological processes to learn, with tremendous complexity and beauty. The idea is to use all that knowledge to solve human health challenges that are left unattended by modern society.”
During Critical crisis or an outbreak like the Ebola & Zika outbreak we faced recently, E25Bio’s test might have critical applications and come in very handy. Over the lifecycle of the Zika outbreak in 2016, the world saw over 175 million confirmed instances of Zika and more than 525 million suspected cases. At its summit, the World Health Organization declared the epidemic a”Public Health Emergency of International Concern.”
Bosch, along with Gehrke, the Hermann von Helmholtz Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and a member of the Institute for Medical Engineering and Science at MIT, have worked closely with the Tata Center on execution pathways for their study in rapid diagnostics. With the support of the center’s new Translational Research Program, both Bosch and George managed to move their technology toward commercialization. “Without the Tata Center, it’s fairly possible that we would not be in active talks about bringing our research to large numbers of patients,” Gehrke said. E25Bio is currently looking to shut their Series A round of financing.
The Tata Center utilizes innovative science and technology to address challenges in the developing world. The center strives to attain long-term impact by translating discoveries into affordable products and services. With help from both visionary colleagues at The Engine, this particular technology’s journey to market provides a way for exponentially greater effect for the Tata Center’s world-changing research and alternatives.