The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Grand Challenges Canada have announced grants totaling $31 million to organizations working on innovative ideas for point-of-care diagnostics in the developing world.
Awarded through the foundation's Grand Challenges in Global Health program, the grants are part of the Point of Care Diagnostics (POC Dx) Initiative, a research-and-development effort that aims to create new diagnostic platforms that make possible high-quality, low-cost disease diagnosis at the point of care in remote and impoverished settings. Robust, simple, and inexpensive diagnostic tests have the ability to greatly improve the quality of health care provided to people in the developing world, where the burden of disease is highest.
The Gates Foundation awarded twelve grants totaling $21.1 million through the initiative, while Grand Challenges Canada will disburse ten grants totaling $10.8 million. Recipients include Seventh Sense Biosystems in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is working to develop a painless low-cost blood collection device; David Beebe and University of Wisconsin researchers, who are developing a sample purification system that aims to better filter and concentrate biomarkers from patient samples; and Axel Scherer of the California Institute of Technology in conjunction with a group of collaborators from Dartmouth College, who are working to develop a prototype quantitative PCR (qPCR) amplification/detection component module.
"New and improved diagnostics to use at the point of care can help health workers around the world save countless lives," said Chris Wilson, director of Global Health Discovery at the Gates Foundation. "Our hope is that these bold ideas lead to affordable, easy-to-use tools that can rapidly diagnose diseases, trigger timelier treatment, and thereby reduce death, disability and transmission of infections in resource-poor communities."