Professor Kirill Alexandrov is developing an affordable, portable biosensor to detect infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, HIV, influenza and Zika virus. Infectious diseases cause 16 per cent of deaths worldwide each year, mostly in developing countries. But most of these diseases can only be definitively diagnosed through time-consuming and costly laboratory tests, which are difficult to access for people in developing nations and rural areas and can return results too late to treat individual patients and prevent disease outbreaks.
Professor Alexandrov is repurposing existing technology from blood glucose monitors to detect disease biomarkers from a sample of human blood or saliva, with the results viewable in real time on a mobile phone, allowing for an immediate diagnosis in the field.
The team has proven that the test works in principle and can be performed affordably, and is now ensuring the test is sensitive and accurate enough to be deployed to the field.
The next step will be fine-tuning the test to detect a range of diseases, meaning patients could be instantly diagnosed with their specific disease and a treatment plan formulated wherever they are located.