15.01.2014

Researchers invent device to rapidly detect infectious diseases

The device was designed to detect infectious disorders such as Chagas rapidly to facilitate diagnosis in isolated or low-income populations. This technology can be used in humans and animals.

Researchers invent device to rapidly detect infectious diseases

The device was designed to detect infectious disorders.

Chagas disease, brucellosis and hemolytic uremic syndrome, are infectious diseases affecting the more isolated populations in the country. The lack of capacity to detect these conditions in communities far from health centers, worsens the consequences of disease and complicates treatments. Only in the case of Chagas, over 7,000,000 people are the estimated exposed population.

In view of this problem, the Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation provided funds to develop a prototype for the detection of infectious diseases which allows diagnosis onsite in just fifteen minutes. The device, designed by researchers at the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI), is portable and easy to handle and can be used for diagnosis in humans and animals. In addition, it will be inexpensive to be used in hospitals or primary care centers with limited financial resources.

At present, the method of detection of infectious diseases such as Chagas disease, brucellosis, hemolytic uremic syndrome, among others, is analyzing blood samples in specialized centers for rapidly diagnosis and favorable treatment. Isolated communities of large cities with no nearby hospitals or health centers without the equipment required are forced to send samples to distant health centers resulting in delays to identify the disease.

Carlos Moina, PhD in Chemistry from INTI and director of the project "taking blood samples in distant places in Santiago del Estero and sending them to a reference center located in the province of Buenos Aires or Córdoba is quite different from making the same determination immediately onsite.The intention is that a device be available even in the most isolated centers of primary health care". Monitoring of the disease is also possible through this device, as in the case of newborns from mothers with the Chagas disease that "during the acute stage in which the disease is treatable, medication given to babies has many side effects.Unable to periodically check the progress of the disease, treatment is prolonged when it is not necessary" Moina says.

The diagnosis platform is based on the formation of the antigen-antibody complex and the generation of an electrical signal through a process of electrochemical transduction. The device has the antigens, i.e., specific proteins for each disease, which were mobilized in magnetic nanoparticles that in contact with the serum or blood of the person or animal concerned, detects the presence or absence of antibodies.

The device can be controlled and powered via USB connection or power line. The possibility to charge the device with solar cells to be used in locations far from electrical networks will be tested in a short time.

This device was developed from an interdisciplinary work carried out by a public-private consortium created by the Biotechnology Research Institute (IIB-CONICET) of the National University of San Martín (UNSAM), the INTI and three biotechnology companies, combining nanotechnology, electrochemistry, biochemistry, electronics and industrial design.

Also with regard to detection of diseases in animals, the device allows not only to detect diseases in cattle through blood samples but also through milk. Therefore, a better control over the milking yards is exercised, avoiding taking blood samples.

The prototype is currently under the validation stage, testing more than 300 thousand serums and the ongoing approval of the regulatory agencies: the National Administration of Drugs, Food and Medical Technology (ANMAT) and the National Agri-food Health and Quality Service (SENASA). After this validation stage, the INTI will enter into an agreement with the National Administration of Laboratories and Health Institutes "Dr. Carlos G. Malbran" (ANLIS) to validate the use of devices in selected health centers of isolated communities in the big cities of our country.

Argentine Development

The Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation provided a subsidy for the amount of $ 13,045,155 to develop a nanosensors and bionano inputs platform for in-situ diagnostics, also called "point- of- care" (POC) of infectious diseases. This project involved the creation of a public-private consortium consisting of the National Institute of Industrial Technology (INTI), the Biotechnology Research Institute of the National University of San Martin (UNSAM) Agropharma Salud Animal S.A.; Biochemiq S.A.; AADEE S.A. The device price will be around $ 1,000 and will be manufactured after establishing a partnership agreement between the companies participating in the consortium in charge of producing inputs and the electronics company in charge of the device assembling. The device to rapidly diagnosis of infectious diseases onsite will allow the competent authorities to build effective responses to epidemic outbreaks in our country.

Infectious Diseases

Chagas disease is a disease caused by the parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi, which can live in the blood and tissues of humans and animals or in the digestive tract of some insects so-called kissing bugs or bedbugs. The most common manner of transmission is through the bite of the kissing bug infected with the parasite causing fever, diarrhea and fatigue. In Argentina there are 7,300,000 exposed people, 1,600,000 infected people and 300,000 people suffering from cardiac disorders as a result of the Chagas disease.

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease affecting mammal animals and humans transmitted through consumption of contaminated foods, such as unpasteurized milk and cheese; inhalation of infectious aerosols and contact with animals secretions. Symptoms include: intermittent or irregular fever of variable duration, headache, weakness, sweating, chills, weight loss and malaise.

The Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome (HUS) is a disease caused by a group of bacteria called Escherichia coli with children between 6 months and 5 years of age being most commonly affected, causing kidney failure, anemia and neurological disorders. The most common form of transmission is ingestion of undercooked meat with the bacterium. More than 300 cases occur each year in our country.

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Researchers invent device to rapidly detect infectious diseases

The device was designed to detect infectious disorders.

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