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UW Leads $10M DoD-funded Project to Develop Paper-based Remote MDx Device

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The US Department of Defense has granted investigators at the University of Washington and their partners $9.6 million to support the development of a paper-based molecular diagnostic testing system that could be used in remote regions and in homes around the world by people with no training, UW said yesterday.

Principal investigator Paul Yager, a professor and chair of the UW Bioengineering Department, will lead the study, which involves partners at General Electric Global Research and Epoch Biosciences.

The partners are creating a paper-based testing system that will be about as easy to use as a home pregnancy test kit, they said, but will diagnose diseases. They plan to start with a test for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and then will develop tests for the influenza virus and possibly sexually transmitted diseases and other pathogens.

The technology, called 2DPN (two-dimensional paper network), will allow for fully quantitative multiplexed analyte measurement, will be inexpensive, and will not require the end-user to have any instruments more complex than a cell phone camera, according to UW.

"This test will be inexpensive, simple to use, and robust enough that people could use it in their homes, in the developing world, and in a doctor's office," Yager said in a statement.

Patients would take a nasal swab and activate a disposable device that looks for DNA or RNA from specific pathogens. A pattern of dots will appear on the test paper if a pathogen is present, and patients would then photograph that pattern with a cell phone and send the picture to their physician anywhere in the world for diagnosis.

This is the second phase of funding for this project, which received $4 million in 2011 to launch the project and now aims to create a usable prototype.

Yager began developing this lab-on-chip technology with a $15 million grant from the Gates Foundation.

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