Improved sensitivity of tuberculosis diagnosis in developing countries
We helped the not-for-profit Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics – FIND – to improve TB diagnoses in developing countries.
42 Technology worked closely with FIND, an independent, international, non-profit organization, to significantly improve the sensitivity of tuberculosis diagnosis. The new approaches investigated are now enabling easier and earlier identification of infected patients using a new diagnostic test for TB, one of the world’s most prevalent and virulent infectious diseases.
FIND and 42 Technology first started working together in 2009 to devise novel concepts to safely transfer precise volumes of infected patient sputum samples for application in the field. The initial outcome of the unique combination of the FIND’s scientific and medical expertise and 42 Technology’s product design and development was sufficiently promising that the affiliation has been extended into a longer-term project.
42 Technology is an excellent product and process development partner, and has improved the performance of one of our most promising new TB diagnostic tests. Their product engineering, project management and creative skills are helping our medical and clinical teams in Uganda and Geneva to consider alternative approaches to optimizing test methodologies.
TB is a huge health burden in developing countries, and its spread is facilitated by the well-known difficulties in making an early diagnosis. The most common diagnostic relies on sputum smear microscopy, which is both cumbersome and insensitive, especially in patients in the early stages of disease, those with HIV co-infection and children.
FIND is therefore focused on developing promising new technologies to diagnose poverty-related diseases, particularly TB, malaria and human African trypanosomiasis. The TB test is being specifically developed to identify patients much earlier in the disease process before they show debilitating symptoms, to improve treatment outcomes and significantly reduce transmission rates.
The approaches developed by the 42 Technology-FIND team were designed to extract and concentrate TB bacillus from small samples to increase the sensitivity of subsequent test methods. Sputum is a difficult, highly variable medium to work with, but the sooner patients can be positively identified from these samples, the faster treatment can start, and the lower the chances of the spread of infection. Improvements in the process for sample concentration could also be applied to other diagnostic tests.