Daktari Diagnostics, in collaboration with Harvard University, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of Zambia in Lusaka, is thrilled to announce that it has been awarded a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant by the National Institute of Health (NIH) for a point-of-care sickle cell diagnostic test. Daktari, which commercializes diagnostic platforms to meet the health care needs in Africa, Asia, and resource-limited settings worldwide, will use grant funding to aid in the development of the sickle cell assay.
The Daktari sickle cell system takes a small drop of blood from a heel stick or finger prick into a capillary tube filled with three different polymeric aqueous solutions. After centrifugation in a small, battery-operated instrument, sickle cells are separated from normal red blood cells, based on differences in their cell density. The isolated sickle cells fraction is then detected by a simple optical reader inside the Daktari instrument. In less than 15 minutes, the system will diagnose the presence of sickle cell disease and will distinguish it from sickle cell trait. More information about the technology can be found here.
"We are excited to work with our peers at Harvard University, the Medical University of South Carolina, and the University of Zambia in Lusaka to develop a system that will provide patients with a sickle cell diagnosis on the spot," said Marta Fernandez-Suarez, Scientific Director for Daktari. "By merging our areas of expertise, we believe that we can produce a portable, simple, low-cost sickle cell diagnostic test for use in the settings that need it the most."
"We have worked hard over the last three years to develop a prototype of this test and are delighted that preliminary testing in Zambia has shown promising results," said A.J. Kumar, a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Professor George Whitesides at Harvard University and the lead engineer on this project. "We are now very excited to partner with Daktari Diagnostics to move the product one step further into the product development process, and closer to the people who need it."
Sickle cell disease has surfaced as a leading health epidemic in Africa. Each year, 200,000 children die from undiagnosed sickle cell disease-related infections, respiratory distress, and sickle cell crisis. The Daktari sickle cell system is aimed at closing a diagnostic access gap by reaching places where large pieces of laboratory equipment cannot.
This grant comes on the heels of the June 2014 NIH Phase I SBIR grant awarded to Daktari for its hepatitis C diagnostic system, a point-of-care HCV assay that runs on the same point-of-care platform as the Daktari CD4 test used to monitor HIV patients in remote settings.
Daktari Diagnostics, Inc.