Mobile Health Around the Globe: Gene-RADAR Can Test for Viruses in Remote Locations
Nanobiosym is a company that uses physics and medicine to fight disease. Dr. Anita Goel, a physicist and a physician, brought her two areas of expertise together to develop Nanobiosym's first product, Gene-RADAR, a customizable virus-detection device that is portable and fast.
Nanobiosym was just awarded the $525,000 Grand Prize in the first competition of the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE. Robert K Weiss, vice chairman and president, XPRIZE said in a recent press release,
“We’re thrilled that the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE helped provide a platform for Nanobiosym and the other competing teams to demonstrate their exciting technologies. The future of digital medical technology illuminated by Nanobiosym exemplifies the goal of the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE – to advance innovative sensing technologies that will help transform health care into a 'smart', highly personalized and instantly accessible system.”
Use of the Gene-RADAR device is simple. Drop a small drop of blood or other body fluid onto a disposable strip. The mobile device extracts the DNA and RNA present in the sample and compares it to the DNA and RNA of a virus. It can be customized to look for a variety of diseases, allowing it to meet the needs of whoever is using it. Gene-RADAR is a device but uses an app to customize it to test for specific viruses. Nanobiosym has developed an app for HIV/AIDS and an app for e-coli and is working on apps for malaria and TB.
Not only is Gene-RADAR faster and less expensive, it can also be taken anywhere, including rural communities that have limited access to doctors and hospitals.
Also, the device looks at the DNA and RNA of the virus, not just the surface structure. Dr Goel explains,
“Bird flu and swine flu were cousins of each other—the same family of viruses that mutated. Even if we have a drug to treat one, if you can’t detect it fast enough, it keeps changing and evades traditional detectors. The thing that changes every time it mutates is the DNA or RNA...The surface properties and behaviors can fool you. They may not always change in a way that you can detect”
Viruses spread quickly and with a mobile device, you don't have to wait for people to get sick, arrive at a hospital, take a sample of blood or fluid and send it out to get it analyzed which may take several days.
In collaboration with Partners in Health in Rwanda, Nanobiosym will offer Gene-RADAR to provide early detection of HIV through its mobile health applications. From the SavingLivesAtBirth website:
"Its ability to measure viral load during gestation, delivery, and post-partum in mothers and infants will enable earlier detection and customization of ART in real time, eliminating the need for costly and resource intensive lab infrastructure. By calibrating ART and routinely monitoring viral load, Gene-RADAR® will enable doctors in the developing world to screen, customize, and adjust the dosing regimen for maximum impact on MTCT."
Watch this video as Dr Goel talks about Gene-RADAR:
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Joan Justice is Executive Director at thePatient Empowerment Network, a global non-for-profit organization dedicated to fortifying the health care consumer with the knowledge and tools to feel more confident playing a central role in decisions that affect their health. Joan has a background in nursing and domestic and international healthcare marketing. Previously, she was the manager of ...