Low power, low cost biomedical diagnostics

We are interested in a range of applicants to help us develop technologies associated with materials science (making sensory systems out of paper so that they are cheap and easily disposed of), engineers and physicists (interested in studying new flow patterns in these fields), and chemists (for new reagents that can be used within the sensors).

Diagnostics in healthcare

Improvements within healthcare systems within the Developed World are bringing about demographic change and an ageing population. This, in turn, has resulted in the need for better healthcare monitoring systems, particularly in the home or at the point-of-care in primary care centres. One clear trend within the Developed World is the need for improved information in diagnostics, not only to identify drug resistant strains in e.g. sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or tuberculosis (TB), but also for better response to bacterial infections (including for example, the prevention of sepsis).

A second clear trend lies in The Developed World, the field of personalized medicine. In future, drug dosages and combinations of different drugs will be administered following a molecular diagnostic test to assess the needs of the patient (this is particularly true in the field of biologically active drugs called biologics).

In contrast to the Developed World, where 70% of people survive to age 70, in the Developing World, 40% of children will die before the age of 14, primarily due to infectious disease (7.5M people die each year from malaria, AIDS, TB, pneumonia and rotavirus). Whilst POC diagnostics are being developed, in many cases the disease is one step ahead of the diagnostic test. In order to catch up with these rapidly evolving resistant strains of diseases, it is widely accepted that there is a need for molecular diagnosis, so that patients can be treated with correct drugs.

The recent emergence of drug resistant malaria in Asia, which now poses one of the most significant healthcare problems facing the world, serves to highlight the need for advanced molecular diagnostics using nucleic acid testing (NAT).

The key to developing such an expert diagnostic systems lies in the ability to integrate sample preparation, processing (such as polymerase chain reaction, PCR) and sensing in the same device. We propose new paradigms, exploiting acoustic and-or electric fields to create new fluid flow patterns and new sensing and transduction techniques that enable a wholly integrated approach to low cost diagnostics, from “the sample to the answer”.