According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 3.3 billion people are at risk of contracting malaria – just under half of the world’s population. In 2013, there were nearly 200 million cases of the disease globally, and it caused around 584,000 deaths. Ninety percent of cases occurred in Africa, where the disease is endemic in large areas.
Tackling a problem as complex as eradicating malaria in the developing world requires collaboration among experts from diverse subject areas. That’s why GE Research partnered with Global Good itself a collaboration between the Bill Gates and Intellectual Ventures, to develop a malaria diagnostic test platform. From 2015-2017, the two organizations developed a new paper-based test called a lateral flow assay (LFA) that uses a patient's blood sample to detect malaria in asymptomatic carriers. In addition to the paper-based LFA test, the partners are also collaborated on an electronic test reader that is backpack-portable and battery-operated. Like a pregnancy test from a supermarket, the malaria LFA is designed to identify proteins made by the parasite that are present in the blood, and provides results within minutes. A positive result is indicated by a color change on the bioactive paper. The clinician or technician performing the test will then further analyze the result by the electronic reader to obtain even more sensitive and accurate results.
An equally eclectic team of experts in materials science, biology, healthcare, chemistry and electrical, chemical, process and optical engineering poured in their wisdom to improve the test's performance.
In 2017, Intellectual Ventures’ Global Good Fund and GE signed a licensing agreement with the diagnostics technology company Access Bio to manufacture and distribute innovative diagnostic technologies that will help global health workers to more rapidly identify asymptomatic malaria in low-resource regions around the world.
The new diagnostics technologies for malaria detection were co-developed by a team of scientists and engineers at GE Research in Upstate New York and Global Good. GE Ventures, GE’s strategic arm to accelerate innovation and growth with partners, drove the commercialization model for the technology and the licensing agreement between GE, Global Good and Access Bio.
Capabilities utilized for Stopping Malaria: POCT Diagnostic Platform project
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