42 Technology and FIND partner to deliver improved TB diagnosis
The new approaches beinginvestigated should enable easier and earlier identification of infected patients using a newdiagnostic test for TB, one of the world’s mostprevalent and virulent infectious diseases.
FIND and 42 Technology first started working together in 2009 to devise novel concepts to safely transfer precise volumes of infected patientsputum samples for application in the field. The initial outcome ofthe unique combination of the FIND’s scientific and medicalexpertise and 42 Technology’s technology and product engineering wassufficiently promising that the affiliation has been extended into alonger term project.
The approaches now being developed by the 42 Technology/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 variablemedium to work with, but the sooner patients can be positively identified from these samples, the faster treatmentcan 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 oneof our most promising new TB diagnostic tests. The consultancy’s product engineering, project management andcreative skills are helping our medical and clinical teams in Uganda and Geneva to consider alternativeapproaches to optimizing test methodologies. Our objective is to improve test sensitivity, therefore allowing patients to start treatment before transmitting the disease.
— 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.