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Malaria diagnostic via polymerization reactions

English title Malaria diagnostic via polymerization reactions
Applicant Pollard Jonas
Number 173771
Funding scheme Bridge - Proof of Concept
Research institution Adolphe Merkle Institute Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Physical Chemistry
Start/End 01.08.2017 - 31.05.2019
Approved amount 195'000.00
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Keywords (8)

Biosensing; Diagnostic; Malaria; Polymerizations; Polymerization-based signal amplification; Biocatalysis; blood; parasites

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Chaque année, l'Organisation mondiale de la Santé (OMS) recense plusieurs centaines de millions de nouveaux cas de paludisme (malaria). Ces chiffres comprennent les personnes qui, bien que ne présentant aucun symptôme, sont porteuses de la maladie, participant ainsi à sa propagation. Jusqu'à présent, aucune méthode diagnostique ne s’est révélée assez sensible, robuste, simple d’utilisation et suffisamment abordable pour permettre un dépistage de masse sur le terrain afin d’éradiquer la malaria.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs du travail de recherche

Au cours de mes travaux de doctorat, j’ai réussi à identifier la présence d'un biomarqueur du parasite de la malaria par un procédé chimique simple, avec une sensibilité inégalée par d’autres méthodes. Cette observation m’a permis de mettre au point un nouvel outil de diagnostic du paludisme, adapté aux besoins d'une campagne sanitaire d'éradication de cette maladie. Grâce au BRIDGE, nous avons pu avancer le développement de ce nouvelle outil diagnostic. Le procédé chimique a été amélioré, un prototype a été construit et nous l’avons testé sur le terrain, à deux reprises, dans une clinique à Porto Vehlo, Brésil. Dans le même temps, nous sommes en contact avec différents spécialistes du paludisme, fabricants de méthodes diagnostiques et agences gouvernementales, afin d'être mis en relation avec des clients potentiels. Nous sommes aussi en train d'identifier des fournisseurs pour une production de masse de notre diagnostique.

Contexte scientifique et social du projet de recherche

Ce nouvel outil de diagnostic breveté pourrait constituer un outil robuste, hautement sensible et efficace pour les pays où l’on cherche à éradiquer la maladie, en permettant l’identification des  réservoirs de parasite dans la population. Nous pensons que notre méthode,  grâce à sa sensibilité et son faible coût, ouvrira ainsi la voie au dépistage de masse et contribuera à réduire la portée du paludisme.

Mots-clés :  paludisme, malaria, diagnostic, sang, parasite, polymérisation, biocatalyse.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 06.06.2019

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Name Institute

Publications

Publication
Hemozoin-catalyzed precipitation polymerization as an assay for malaria diagnosis
Rifaie-Graham Omar, Pollard Jonas, Raccio Samuel, Balog Sandor, Rusch Sebastian, Hernández-Castañeda María Andrea, Mantel Pierre-Yves, Beck Hans-Peter, Bruns Nico (2019), Hemozoin-catalyzed precipitation polymerization as an assay for malaria diagnosis, in Nature Communications, 10(1), 1369-1369.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute/Prof. Hans-Peter Beck Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Centro de Pesquisa em Medicina Tropical/Prof. Dhelio Pereira, Porto Velho Brazil (South America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
SHIFT Zürich Talk given at a conference Hemolytics 23.08.2018 Zürich, Switzerland Pollard Jonas;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Café scientifique HUG Talk 24.04.2018 Genéve, Switzerland Pollard Jonas;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media https://www.laliberte.ch/info-regionale/fribourg/uni-de-fribourg-nouvelle-methode-pour-detecter-la-m La liberté Western Switzerland 2019
Media relations: radio, television Interview Radio Fribourg / Radio Freiburg Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2018
Media relations: print media, online media L'éradication de la malaria pourrait venir de Fribourg 20 minutes Rhaeto-Romanic Switzerland 2018

Awards

Title Year
Ypsomed Innovationpreis - 3rd place 2019
Venture kick Stage 1 2018

Abstract

Malaria remains one of the predominant causes of death in low income countries. Effective diagnostics is the key to eradicate the disease completely. For example, highly-sensitive techniques for malaria parasite detection are needed to test entire populations in endemic areas, to ensure that also people who have no symptoms are tested and treated. This eliminates the reservoir of the parasite which allows mosquitoes to be re-infected and spread the disease further. That is why I wish to develop a highly-sensitive, low-cost, easy-to-use, field-test-compatible malaria detection assay with significant advantages as compared to existing solutions. The novel test is based on the observation in my PhD work that hemozoin, a biocrystal formed in blood due to malarial infection, can be used as a catalyst for polymerization reactions. By careful selection of stable reagents, the polymerization reaction causes a precipitate to form, rendering the solution turbid. Using a simple optical readout device for the measurement of this turbidity, I believe that a breakthrough in malaria detection sensitivity can be achieved with an opportunity for significant market penetration. This novel malaria diagnostic assay could therefore have a tremendous socio-economic impact around the globe. A proof of principle set of experiments has been accomplished successfully in our laboratories, and I now wish to move from an assay in the lab to the next step towards a practical and economically viable testing device.This BRIDGE project aims to turn our diagnostic assay into a low-cost highly-sensitive device for malaria detection in blood, with the required technical partners to produce and distribute the device, and thus assist in the eradication of malaria worldwide. There are several technical hurdles which must be overcome in the course of the project: First, I will need to develop the hemozoin isolation step from the blood to avoid false positives caused for example by hemoglobin. Second, the microfluidic pathway from the consumable inlet to its reaction chamber will be designed. Finally, a dedicated turbidity measurement device encompassing a light source and a photodetector will be constructed by a hired engineer. The design of the prototype, including the reader device and consumable, will take all of these elements into account. In parallel, I will contact national malaria-control programs (our potential customers) via governmental and NGO organizations. These will include the foundation for innovative new diagnostics (FIND) in Geneva and the Swiss agency for development and cooperation (SDC). These customers and partners will specify the needs required for a field device, which will feedback into the design of our prototype. I will also look for different types of industrial partners to successfully bring our product to the market. I require partners who could provide us with already existing parts of the prototype, e.g. implementation of hemozoin isolation, and also partners with the capacity to industrially produce the device and that would preferably have an already existing route to the market of point-of-care blood diagnostic test devices.The expected outcome of the BRIDGE project will be the construction of a prototype reader-consumable system tailored to the market needs, completing the pathway from blood sampling to the diagnostic result. I will also clarify what the market needs and opportunities are and create partnerships to assist us with the volume production. The BRIDGE project will help us to establish our assay as a novel diagnostic tool for malaria eradication campaigns that can technically outperform current testing methods and be financially competitive, which will pave the way to found a start-up-company to further develop and market the diagnostic assay and device.
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