Infectious diseases are the leading cause of death across the planet.
The situation is getting worse in industrialized countries, including Canada: the mortality rate has increased by 50% in the last 20 years. The first few hours after infection are critical, and rapid diagnosis could prevent complications, or even death. However, the tests currently available require more than 48 hours to identify the microbe causing the infection.
The "lab on a chip" analyzes samples and produces a diagnosis right at point of care, making it possible to treat patients in real time.
For 20 years, Michel Bergeron, professor at Université Laval and director of the Infectious Disease Research Center of the Centre hospitalier universitaire de Québec, has been seeking to speed up the diagnosis of infections. Using nucleic acid (DNA-RNA) detection, he developed the first five rapid molecular diagnostic tests approved by the FDA, Health Canada and the EU. He and his team recently developed GenePOC (point-of-care) Diagnostics, the first test on the market with the ability to detect nucleic acids.
This unique technology could take diagnostic testing and patient care to a whole new level. The "lab on a chip" analyzes samples and produces a diagnosis right at point of care, making it possible to treat patients in real time. Fully automated and autonomous, the system has a CD-ROM that can identify DNA accurately, reliably and, above all, in one hour or less!
This portable laboratory will be able to identify all current types of infections, be they bacterial, fungal or viral. The most common of these include respiratory tract infections, gastrointestinal tract infections, neonatal infections and sexually transmitted diseases.
The researchers are currently performing clinical trials on the detection of Group B Streptococcus in pregnant women, with the goal of officially launching the system in 2014. The rapid detection tool will then be installed in hospitals and health centres, including emergency rooms and intensive care units.
GenePOC could reduce the risk of nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections by allowing rapid diagnosis and treatment of infected individuals; it would have similar benefits during influenza epidemics. A diagnostic tool of this nature will improve health care for patients, while reducing the risk of complications and the costs related to care and laboratory testing. Within a few years, GenePOC may also be available in doctors' offices and pharmacies.
Interest in GenePOC Diagnostics is global. Its design team has received recognition for their achievements, and was recently awarded the 2013 North America Frost & Sullivan Entrepreneurial Company of the Year Award. The researcher and his team want to make the tool available worldwide, especially in developing countries. And why not portable tests, that would allow us all to diagnose our own infections?