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Diagnostic tools for the point of care

Funding agents: H2020

project Free@POC

Point-of-care (POC) testing enables the rapid detection of analytes within minutes and near or close to the patient without the need of any sophisticated laboratory equipment. It offers accelerated medical diagnosis, facilitating health care, disease monitoring and management even for areas lacking basic human necessities. Main drawbacks of POC testing are considered to be their limited precision and accuracy. Both, though, are rapidly being improved by taking advantage of the continuous developments in biosensors, microfluidics, 3D printing and molecular biology. In this line, the Biosensors lab in IMBB implements these technologies to create novel POC tools for the diagnosis of genetic and infectious diseases on the nucleotide level. Some representative targets are the contagious viruses Covid-19, Influenza and HIV-1 and also the single-point mutation causing Sickle Cell Disease, an autosomal recessive haemoglobinopathy

The EU project Free@POC led by the Biosensors lab in IMBB, aims for an instrument-free approach for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. The ambitious goal of the project is a time-to-result of less than 60 min, increased sensitivities comparable to the clinically relevant values and a final cost in the order of $1 per assay. To achieve the above, novel diagnostic tools for genetic amplification operating at ambient temperature are being developed and combined with smartphone colorimetric detection. The Biosensors lab in IMBB, is responsible for demonstrating the global applicability of the new approach during infectious disease (Covid-19, Influenza and HIV) testing in human samples (blood and swabs). Combination of Free@POC concept with newly developed predictive models will expand its utility to monitoring disease outbreaks and their spreading. This new generation of instrument-free molecular diagnostics is expected to revolutionize nucleic acid analysis at the POC but also in applications beyond, resulting in substantial societal as well as economic benefits.

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