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Rapid and effective diagnosis of infectious diseases


The Ikerlan Centre for Technological Research, linked to the Mondragón Corporación Cooperativa (MCC), has been chosen to lead the European Optolab Card project the aim of which is to design and develop a device for the speedy and effective diagnosis in the treatment and consequent reduction of infectious diseases, evermore present due to the greater mobility of carriers.

The Ikerlan-led project involves a device made up of a portable base and a card that functions as a laboratory and which automatically controls bacteria-provoked health risks by means of real-time detection of DNA - from sample preparation to visual detection.

A number of other technology centres from the Basque Country are participating in the project such as Gaiker and the Basque Foundation for Innovation & Research in Healthcare (BIOEF), as well as other centres and companies from Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Poland. The project is due to last for 3 years and it will take another three for the new device to be on the market.

The optic laboratory miniaturised on a card will detect salmonellosis, the pathogen with the highest incidence level throughout the European Union (40.7 persons per 100,000 inhabitants). Moreover, the diagnostic capacity of the new device is very varied, being able to detect and distinguish chains of DNA. For example, it can be adapted to detect other infectious diseases such as flu, tuberculosis, hepatitis, AIDS, etc.

Diagnosis in 15 minutes

Another of the advantages of the optic card laboratory is that it is the first system to provide a rapid diagnosis of an infectious disease in only 15 minutes, given that current analytical methods need a great number of samples and protocols that cause the tests to take from 6 hours to 2 days to be carried out, enough time for a whole community or a significant part of the population to become infected.

Possible future applications of the laboratory card are also highly important, as they can provide doctors with devices for genetic diagnosis for the early detection of molecular diseases, such as degenerative ones (Parkinson’s, Alzheimer and so on), genetic disorders, paternity tests, as well as forensic medicine applications.

The existence of the laboratory card is also destined to significantly enhance the quality of the health system, reducing hospital admissions, the time spent in hospital and costs relating to diagnoses. The application of this device will have a great bearing on the reduction of infectious diseases.

This is not the first European project in which Ikerlan is involved. This MCC–linked Centre for Technological Research is currently developing new advanced systems for the diagnosis of cancer, working together with the Basque body Gaiker and BIOEF. This project, involving a total of 11 countries, will last four years.

Irati Kortabitarte | alfa
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