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POC-molecular diagnostic tools for infectious diseases

Project: FREE@POC

Funding: EU H2020_FET-OPEN  2020-2024

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 their limited precision and accuracy. Both, though, are rapidly being improved by taking advantage of the continuous developments in molecular biology, biosensors, microfluidics, 3D printing and smart-phone operation. In this line, the Biosensors lab leads the EU project Free@POC which focuses on the development of an instrument-free approach for the diagnosis of human and plant-borne  diseases in the field.

Flowchart of the steps required for the POC- molecular detection of human and plant-borne molecular diseases.

The ambitious goal of the project is a time-to-result of less than 60 min, increased or similar sensitivities compared to the clinical tests  and a final cost in the order of $1 per assay. To achieve the above, novel diagnostic tools for isothermal genetic amplification at ambient temperature are being developed and combined with smartphone colorimetric detection. In collaboration with our partners (Pasteur-Fr; UCLH-UK; CNR-It; JadBio-Gr) we are developing molecular assays for  infectious disease testing, i.e., for Covid-19, Influenza and HIV, directly in human samples (serum, saliva and swabs). Combination of the Free@POC concept with newly developed predictive models are expected to 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.

Find out more:  https://www.freepoc.eu/

Fig.2 Detection methods for POC-molecular protocols.jpg

Instrument-free visualization methods developed in biosensors lab for the POC-molecular detection of HIV-1, influenza, covid19 and Xyllela. Visualization using lateral flow strips (A), Cas12a - Gold nanoparticles (B), SYBR-Green under visible light (C), pH indicator dyes (D), SYBR-Green under UV light (E).  

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