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NIH, India Partner for Low-cost Medical Devices

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering will support a unique program that will give NBIB-supported scientists supplemental grants that researchers will use to partner with engineers and scientists in India to develop low-cost diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.

The program is an initiative between NBIB and India's Department of Biotechnology (DBT) in the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the funds may be used to develop a wide range of technologies, including molecular diagnostics and biomarker-based tools, that could be used cheaply and quickly in the field, and by inexperienced hands around the world.

In 2007, NBIB and DBT reached an agreement to develop low-cost healthcare technologies for medically underserved populations, and in 2008 they held a workshop in Hyderabad on low-cost tools that included around 60 scientists, engineers, and clinicians from the US and India.

The grants will provide up to $20,000 per year for extended research consultations by the NBIB-funded investigator or US-based co-investigators at a collaborator's site in India. The report from the workshop identified a number of technologies that could be useful in delivering cheap medical services to underserved populations.

Among the technologies the group identified are point-of-care diagnostics for infant screening and tests and reagents for cancer screening; a multiplex, lab-on-a-chip technology for sexually transmitted diseases and other infections; a pre-screening test for blood bank safety; diagnostic tests for the early detection of cardiovascular disease; non-invasive or minimally-invasive screening technologies such as microfluidics, microchip blood tests to detect circulating tumor cells; diagnostic screening devices simple enough to be operated by people with minimal education; and diagnostic biomarker development for low-cost screening kits, among others.

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