Written by Bill Finger, Managing Director, Kineticos
As I am networking, especially with colleagues at innovative diagnostic companies, we frequently ponder how the industry could improve at getting even the most innovative technologies to impact more patients. Just last week, I came across an article that introduced a paper strip based technology that is cost effective and has applications in all geographies; both of which are factors that typically make it challenging for technologies to achieve global access.
The article explains how researchers at Ohio State University are developing a new technology that can bring complex testing to the patient. The test is created on paper containing small synthetic chemical probes that carry a positive ionic charge, which can be detected by a handheld mass spectrometer. These ionic probes can be designed with tags to specific antibodies targeted to disease specific biomarkers.
The paper strips, which can be developed for a mere $0.50 a strip, are designed to withstand large temperature variations, including climates with high temperatures like Africa. Currently, they have targets for ovarian cancer (cancer antigen 125 and carcinoembryonic antigen) and malaria. Additional probes can be developed using this same technology.
While the mass spectrometers used to read the probes are currently in the $100,000 range, smaller handheld devices are under development. For the short term, patients would have to collect the samples at home, place them in an envelope and send them off to a lab. This will work for patients in developed countries, but for patients in areas where they do not have the ability to mail samples to a central location, smaller, more cost-effective solutions, like the handheld devices above, must be developed to take the testing to the patient.
It is encouraging to see so much focus on the development of technologies that can be done at the point of care, or have the ability to be collected at a patient’s home. Many companies developing complex testing options focus on products that will be initially marketed in larger markets such as United States, Europe, or Asia. But it is important to keep an eye on how the products can be introduced to countries that do not have the same access to care, thus opening new markets.
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Bill Finger, Managing Director of Kineticos’ Diagnostics Practice, brings 20 years of diagnostics and laboratory experience to the team. His team is focused on helping diagnostic companies maximize their commercial potential at the corporate and product levels while ensuring companies operate in an efficient manner.