Point of Care Diagnostics through Nano/Microfluidic Chip Promise Instant Diagnostic Results for HIV/AIDS, TB & Malaria


Author: Dr. Steven Mufamadi

Diseases such the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), tuberculosis (TB) and malaria remain among the leading causes of death in sub-Saharan African countries. Addressing these disease burdens in developing countries is very difficult, due to poverty, expensive diagnostics tests or lack to access adequate health care infrastructure. Currently, in the poorest regions of the sub-Saharan Africa, people depend on public clinics and hospitals, which send out samples to national laboratory services (NHLS, South Africa) for further testing.  However, this process may take days or weeks, up to a month sometimes, resulting in delaying medical care.

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Figure: OJ- Biosensor technology is an example of a PoC diagnostics device

Point-of-care (POC) diagnostics through nano/microfluidic technologies, which has a single step procedure that is sensitive and/or accurate and inexpensive, promises to bypass centralised laboratories, which employ multiple laboratory steps. In addition, it will allow nurses or doctors in public clinics/hospitals to diagnose patients immediately, have instant results and/or quick screening in just 10 to 30 minutes and thereafter treat patients on-the-spot. Furthermore, this technology will allow patients to diagnosis themselves (with the help of healthcare workers) in remote areas (e.g. rural areas) and thereafter send results to their doctors immediately though smartphone applications.

Recent trends and future: inventors are focussing on developing PoC diagnostic devices that integrate with mobile smartphones for further characterisation, which is connected either direct to the phone or wirelessly or via Bluetooth. This technology is likely to revolutionise the way we diagnosis and could assist towards HIV/AIDS, TB & Malaria eradication in the 21st century.

However, if one wants to develop POC diagnostic devices/test kits for infectious diseases, he or she must follow the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, which state that the device must be, i) affordable/cheap ii), sensitive/accurate, iii) specific, iv) user-friendly, v) rapid and robust, (vi) disposable, (vii) portable and so forth.

The presence of nanotechnology in the device will enable to detection of HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria biomarkers at very low concentrations in the body fluids (e.g., blood, sputum, saliva and urine) during the window period and the clinical latent stage.

For more information regarding nanomedicine and malaria diagnostic devices, please join us in our upcoming Symposium on Nanomedicine & Malaria in South Africa (SANanoMaria2016) or visit our website; www.nabioconsulting.co.za.