Report addresses challenges in implementing new diagnostic tests where they are needed most

June 7, 2012

Easy-to-use, inexpensive tests to diagnose infectious diseases are urgently needed in resource-limited countries. A new report based on an American Academy of Microbiology colloquium, "Bringing the Lab to the Patient: Developing Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Resource Limited Settings," describes the challenges inherent in bringing new medical devices and technologies to the areas of the world where they are needed most. Point-of-care diagnostics (POCTs) bypass the need for sophisticated laboratory systems by leveraging new technologies to diagnose infectious diseases and other health concerns at the bedside, or "point-of-care". Diagnostics account for 2% of the cost of health care, yet can affect 60-70% of treatment decisions. In resource limited areas where advanced laboratory services are not available, access to POCTs may be the difference between making a treatment decision that is informed by an accurate diagnosis versus one that is ineffective or even harmful.

Despite the urgent need for POCTs, deploying them in resource limited settings can be fraught with difficulty. "POCTs are developed by researchers and engineers and implemented by a separate group of public health professionals at a local level. There are so many variables that can make or break the effectiveness of any test, and so often the scientists and engineers developing the test are not aware of them." said Keith Klugman, who chaired the colloquium. "POCTs that perform well in testing may not function 'on the ground' in resource limited areas, where there may not be running water, electricity, or trained personnel to administer the test."

Recognizing the need to connect the scientists and engineers developing the POCTs with the implementing them, the American Academy of convened a colloquium in September of 2011 to discuss how to develop POCTs that can be effectively integrated into resource limited settings. The participants discussed which tests were needed most urgently, features that should be incorporated in the design of the test to make it more effective in the field, and how collaborations between communities could foster an environment of success for new POCTs.

The resulting report makes recommendations in several areas. It details a list of POCTs that would make the biggest impact, for example, tests to detect drug resistance, or effectively monitor viral load in HIV patients. The report describes qualities needed in tests to be effective in resource limited settings such as minimal power requirements, simple interfaces, and integrated instructions on use and quality control protocols. Finally, it recommends changes in how POCTs are regulated, approved, and brought to market to help foster a more conducive environment for POCT development.

"POCTs can fundamentally change the quality of received in resource limited settings, but only if scientists, engineers, and health care professionals work together to develop simple, effective POCTs.", said Jeanne Jordan of George Washington University, one of the colloquium participants. "Bringing the Lab to the Patient: Developing Point-of Care Diagnostics for Resource Limited Settings" is a step forward in forming productive collaborations between these groups to bring POCTs to the people that need them the most.

Explore further: FDA clears new IMMY and University of Nevada, Reno life-saving blood test

More information: A PDF of Bringing the Lab to the Patient: Developing Point-of-Care Diagnostics for Resource Limited Settings can be found online at: bit.ly/pointofcaredx

Related Stories

FDA clears new IMMY and University of Nevada, Reno life-saving blood test

August 24, 2011
The Food and Drug Administration has cleared a new diagnostic test that will help save the lives of hundreds of thousands of AIDS patients stricken with cryptococcosis, a fungal meningitis. The test was developed through ...

Hand-held unit to detect cancer in poorer countries

August 26, 2011
An engineering researcher and a global health expert from Michigan State University are working on bringing a low-cost, hand-held device to nations with limited resources to help physicians detect and diagnose cancer.

Hematologic malignancies rapidly increasing and unaddressed in Sub-Saharan Africa

April 4, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing a growing cancer burden, and hematologic malignancies account for almost 10 percent of cancer deaths in the region.  In the United States and other resource-rich ...

Recommended for you

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...

The ethics of tracking athletes' biometric data

January 18, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—Whether it is a FitBit or a heart rate monitor, biometric technologies have become household devices. Professional sports leagues use some of the most technologically advanced biodata tracking systems to ...

Financial ties between researchers and drug industry linked to positive trial results

January 18, 2017
Financial ties between researchers and companies that make the drugs they are studying are independently associated with positive trial results, suggesting bias in the evidence base, concludes a study published by The BMJ ...

Best of Last Year – The top Medical Xpress articles of 2016

December 23, 2016
(Medical Xpress)—It was a big year for research involving overall health issues, starting with a team led by researchers at the UNC School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health who unearthed more evidence that ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.