We were thinking about common laboratory techniques and how they could be applied in rural healthcare settings. In our initial discussions, our team wanted to 1. break down barriers for access to technology 2. Empower community workers in rural settings. 3. Create a product that could be integrating with existing healthcare workflows.
What it does
An assay to definitively diagnose diseases through DNA amplification technology, using pH as a read out. The device can be used to detect different diseases depending on the sets of primers used. Results are obtained in under 2 hours, with >90% sensitivity and >90% specificity (Geojith et al)
How we built it
We looked into simplifying the process of doing PCR and decided to adopt Loop-mediated Isothermal Amplification (LAMP) technology. Instead of cycling through hot and cold cycles, this allows DNA amplification to be done at one temperature, saving time and reducing the complexity of product design. Detecting results using pH also makes for an easy read-out. The words amplification, LAMP, and pH scramble to give LampiPhy. Based on the device workflow, we rendered the device on computer aided design software (Fusion 360) with its moveable parts,
Challenges we ran into
In rural settings, access to lab resources and trained personnel are limited. This stretched us to design a device that requires minimal existing infrastructure. Our product only requires electricity supply and access refrigeration, something that many community clinics in rural areas already have. The need to simplify design to lower costs also led us to look at new techniques available in the scientific community, and we were able to adopt those (LAMP PCR, pH detection) to achieve our aims.
What's next for LampipHy
We're working Dr Rebecca Walker to look at bifurcation end points within care algorithms that lead to multiple diagnoses. We believe that definitive diagnosis at these junctures would lead to a step change in healthcare provision in rural settings. Based on the specific needs, we will then do rapid prototyping of this technique at the Autodesk pier 9 workshop at San Francisco which we have access to.