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Create Low-Cost Diagnostics for Priority Global Health Conditions (Round 4)



Most diagnostic tests require the invasive acquisition of blood or tissue samples, which contain information-rich markers for specific diseases. Conventional sample collection methods are followed by complex processing, where the processing of blood and tissue samples bring with it complex logistics and time delays given current technologies, standard practices and analytic methods. Unfortunately, this process usually comes at the price of high cost, patient annoyance, product acceptance, and significant training for health workers. As a result, currently available diagnostics are not suitable for most priority global health conditions and settings where low cost, ease of use, and field-rugged solutions are imperative. This topic presents an opportunity to harness inter-disciplinary innovation from engineering, physics, chemistry and biology to create novel, low-cost, easy-to-use class of non-invasive diagnostics that could be transformative for resource limited settings.

What We Are Looking For:

The goal of this topic is to support innovative diagnostics that have the potential to drastically change how we measure a patient’s health condition in developing world settings by overcoming the challenges described above. The foundation’s priority global health conditions include: diarrhea; HIV/AIDS; malaria; tuberculosis; pneumonia; maternal, newborn & child health; nutrition; polio; and other neglected diseases.

Proposals may offer methods to detect disease-causing pathogens as well as biomarkers, indicators of metabolic status, and micronutrients. They may employ existing non-invasive platform technologies or detection modalities, but they must be accompanied by credible biophysical signatures or biomarkers specific for global health conditions.

Proposed diagnostics will ultimately need to fill many of the criteria found in the acronym ASSURED: Affordable by those at risk of infection, Sensitive, Specific, User-friendly (simple to perform with minimal training), Rapid and Robust, Equipment-free or minimal equipment, and Delivered to those who need it.

A few of the options to be considered include:

  • Biochemical amplification or analysis of non-invasive samples such as urine, saliva, sweat or other excreted fluids;
  • Fast scanning of retina or capillaries near a body surface for evidence of disease;
  • Analysis of light reflection and refraction properties;
  • Complex signature analysis for pneumonia and similar diseases via breath acoustics;
  • Detection of molecular analytes from breath;
  • Interpretation of electromagnetic properties from crystals, such as hemozoin for malaria;
  • Measurement of metabolites that indicate nutrient or metabolic status;
  • Measurements relevant to maternal and neonatal health.

We will not consider funding for:

  • The development of a technical improvement with little apparent relevance or impact to a global health problem;
  • Diagnostics of cancer, non-infectious chronic diseases such as asthma, diabetes, allergies;
  • Improvements solely in microfluidics architecture or detection signal transduction; *
  • Traditional immune and molecular assay approaches.*

*Note: molecular detection from blood or other invasive samples will be the subject of a future RFP from the foundation. They will not be considered in this topic.

For information on The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s priority global health conditions, please click here.

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