New research paper shows clinical sensitivity comparable to lab tests

Accurate home tests could be used for a wider range of illnesses as new research shows the ability of smartphone-powered tests for dengue fever.

In an article published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases Today, biomedical technology researchers at the University of Reading used a new diagnostic kit called Cygnus to detect dengue with significantly improved rates compared to lateral flow test kits.

Working with academics and clinicians in Thailand, the team tested the tests alongside already established alternatives and found that the new tests showed clinical sensitivity of 82%, beating lateral flow tests (sensitivity of 74 %) and corresponding to hospital laboratory diagnoses (83% sensitivity). . At the same time, these devices perform 10 measurements to identify which of the 4 different types of dengue virus caused the infection.

Dr Sarah Needs, Postdoctoral Research Associate in Microfluidic Antimicrobial Resistance Testing from the University of Reading, is the lead author of the paper.

Dr Needs said:

“The paper shows exciting potential for the use of ‘lab-on-a-strip’ microfluidic tests that can be used in conjunction with a smartphone and are more powerful than LFT tests in this case. In addition to being cheap to produce , the lab on a strip technology allows users to test several different targets at once in a single sample, so it could be useful to detect several diseases and not just one.

Lab on a tape

The new diagnostic test developed for research uses “lab-on-dipstick” technology, which performs 10 or more tests on a very small amount of liquid sample (such as blood, urine or saliva).

The tests developed for the research were specifically developed to detect dengue fever, which affects around 400 million cases every year. Although most cases are mild, dengue infections can lead to significant complications and can be fatal. Dengue can be more severe in children and is a serious health problem faced by half of the world’s population.

Dr Alexander Edwards, associate professor of biomedical technology at the University of Reading, co-founded the lab on strip technology.

Dr Edwards said:

“While some people may have only recently learned of the trade-offs between home and lab testing after Covid-19, in many parts of the world rapid lateral flow testing is being used for a range of illnesses, including dengue fever.

“With the Cygnus concept, we are tackling the biggest hurdle for home testing. How do you make something portable that can be mass-produced at a lower cost while still matching lab test performance? By designing the microfluidic lab on a band using mass production by fusion extrusion it is possible to scale up production and produce hundreds of thousands of tests By recording the results with smartphones, which are becoming ubiquitous, we designed something that could be revolutionary for health care.

Source of the story:

Material provided by Reading University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.