42 Technology (42T) is working closely with the Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics (FIND), an independent, international, non-profit organisation, to significantly improve the sensitivity of tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis.
42 Technology and FIND partner to deliver improved TB diagnosis
The new approaches being investigated should enable easier and earlier identification of infected patients using a new diagnostic test for TB, one of the world’s most prevalent and virulent infectious diseases.
FIND and 42T first started working together in 2009 to devise novel concepts to safely transfer precise volumes of infected patient sputum samples for application in the field. The initial outcome of the unique combination of the FIND’s scientific and medical expertise and 42T’s technology and product engineering was sufficiently promising that the affiliation has been extended into a longer term project. The image shows (left to right) Rod Haines, Mark Mellors and John Loveluck - three 42T engineering consultants who are working closely with FIND's clinical teams.
The approaches now being developed by the 42T/FIND team are designed to extract and concentrate TB bacillus from small samples to increase the sensitivity of subsequent test methods. Sputum is a difficult, highly variable medium to work with, but the sooner patients can be positively identified from these samples, the faster treatment can start, and the lower the chances of the spread of infection. Improvements in the process for sample concentration could also be applied to other diagnostic tests.
“42 Technology is an excellent product and process development partner to help improve the performance of one of our most promising new TB diagnostic tests. The consultancy’s product engineering, project management and creative skills are helping our medical and clinical teams in Uganda and Geneva to consider alternative approaches to optimizing test methodologies. Our objective is to improve test sensitivity, therefore allowing patients to start treatment before transmitting the disease,” said Dr Mark Perkins, Chief Scientific Officer at FIND.
TB is a huge health burden in developing countries, and its spread is facilitated by the well known difficulties in making an early diagnosis. The most common diagnostic relies on sputum smear microscopy, which is both cumbersome and insensitive, especially in patients in the early stages of disease, those with HIV co-infection and children.
FIND is focused on developing promising new technologies to diagnose poverty-related diseases, particularly TB, malaria and human African trypanosomiasis. The TB test is being specifically developed to identify patients much earlier in the disease process before they show debilitating symptoms, to improve treatment outcomes and significantly reduce transmission rates.
The 42 Technology team of industry experienced physicists, engineers, industrial designers and analysts is expert at conceiving and developing novel products for efficient manufacture.