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PFI:BIC - Pathtracker: A smartphone-based system for mobile infectious disease detection and epidemiology


This Partnerships for Innovation: Building Innovation Capacity (PFI:BIC) project will develop a mobile sensor technology for performing detection and identification of viral and bacterial pathogens. By means of a smartphone-based detection instrument, the results are shared with a cloud-based data management service that will enable physicians to rapidly visualize the geographical and temporal spread of infectious disease. When deployed by a community of medical users (such as veterinarians or point-of-care clinicians), the PathTracker system will enable rapid determination and reporting of instances of infectious disease that can inform treatment and quarantine responses that are currently not possible with tests performed at central laboratory facilities. <br/><br/>Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Loop-Mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) currently represent the most sensitive and specific approaches for identification of viral or bacterial pathogens, with intense research focus directed towards miniaturization, acceleration, and automation of the protocol for amplifying disease-specific DNA sequences to easily-measured concentration. The plan is to apply the results of previously NSF-funded advances in photonic crystal enhanced fluorescence (PCEF) and smartphone fluorescence spectroscopy to implement PCR or LAMP assays within sub-µl liquid volumes for reduction in the assay amplification time to register a measurable fluorescent signal. Importantly, the detection approach enables >10x multiplexing of PCR (or LAMP) reactions within a chip that can be "swiped" through a custom handheld detection instrument that interfaces with the back-facing camera of a conventional smartphone in a manner that is similar to reading a credit card. A mobile device software application will guide the user through the assay process, interpret the results of the detection (including correlation of assay measurements with on-chip experimental controls), and communicate results to a cloud-based data management system along with other relevant information provided by the user. Importantly, the app will enable the user to view the results of tests performed by other users, with a mobile device interface that enables simple visualization of the locations, times, and circumstances surrounding positive/negative tests. The system will enable users to request customizable alerts when positive tests occur within the network of users, and to highlight confirmed positive cases when conventional laboratory tests can confirm results of positive field tests. The app will track outcomes and report statistics on system performance, including Receiver Operating Characteristic of assays. <br/><br/>While the system will initially be deployed in the context of equine infectious disease representing an opportunity to mitigate enormous economic losses associated with infectious disease in the horse industry, the developed technology will be equally applicable to humans, food animals, and companion animals. Considering the economic and health impact of ebola, HIV, tuberculosis, and malaria, when PathTracker is fully deployed within developing nations, the potential of the system to save lives by rapid delivery effective treatment, quarantine of infectious patients, and rapid identification/reporting of new cases is enormous. <br/><br/>At the inception of the project, the primary partners are the lead institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Bioengineering, and National Center for Supercomputing Applications); University of Washington at Seattle (academic institution); Perkin Elmer, Diagnostics R&D Division, (Waltham, MA) (Large business); Motorola Mobility (Chicago, IL) (Large business);and Dr. David Nash, D.VM.(Lexington, KY) (Individual practitioner veterinarian).

Sonka, Steven; Bashir, Rashid; Brooks, Ian; David, Mark; Aldridge, Brian M
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
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