Field testing diagnostic tests in Uganda

Issued: Sun, 05 Mar 2017 19:19:00 GMT

In a project funded by the EPSRC GCRF Institutional Fund to the University of Glasgow, a team of biomedical engineering researchers (Professor Jon Cooper, Dr. Julien Reboud, Ms Alice Garrett), spent two weeks in Uganda with researchers from MVLS (Dr Poppy Lamberton, Dr. Christina Faust and Ms Lauren Carruthers)  to test the efficiency of new medical diagnostic devices for malaria and schistosomiasis in a primary school, in collaboration with the Vector Control Division of the Uganda Ministry of Health (Dr. Edridrah Muheki Tukahebwa).  

~260M people are infected with schistosomiasis with >90% of infections found in sub-Saharan Africa, while ~3.2B people are at risk of malaria, many in Sub-Saharan Africa. For Malaria, the WHO recommends treatments following parasite identification, which is not possible using existing microscopy techniques. To curb resistance and re-emergence after preventive treatment, there is a need to develop highly sensitive diagnostic sensors for both diseases. This pump-priming project is developing a suite of low-cost, sensitive, rapid (<30 min), point-of-care tests to detect schistosoma infections from parasite DNA in eggs (in stool) and in blood, as well as identify the species of malaria infections from a blood finger prick. 

This project is taking our previously developed paper microfluidic multiplexed DNA diagnostic device that exploits novel hot wax printing to integrate sample preparation and fluid flows through capillarity. The device has been tested using pipetted patient samples in the laboratory (see previous publication for details). In this 7-months project, we have tested its performance in the field using ca. 150 patients’ samples over 2 weeks in the Mayuge district. 

(left) The primary school building where the tests were carried out lies on the shores of Lake Victoria (middle). (Right) a positive diagnostic device for malaria, using paper folding processing and lateral flow analysis.