Cornell researchers snag NIH grant for app that diagnoses febrile diseases

Biotech researchers at Cornell University have snagged a $2.3 million grant from the National Institutes for Health to develop the FeverPhone, an app capable of diagnosing febrile diseases like dengue, malaria, chikungunya, typhoid fever, leptospirosis and Chagas disease.

The grant, which runs for four years, will allow the Cornell team to develop the app that will provide field clinicians a real-time, rapid accurate diagnosis using a drop of blood to differentiate and identify specific pathogens, the Cornell Chronicle reported. The technology would be a shift for clinicians who currently base decisions on apparent syndromes or clinical judgments.

Although the Zika virus wasn't part of the original grant application, it's expected that the technology will be expanded to include the virus.

"Acute febrile illnesses--such as malaria and dengue--are responsible for substantial morbidity and mortality around the world, and this problem carries imposing economic cost, primarily in developing countries," Dr. Saurabh Mehta, a principal investigator on the grant, said in a statement. "The FeverPhone will help diagnose common causes of fever from a drop of blood in a few minutes to enable appropriate management and treatment."

Both hardware and software for the app will be developed for use on a smartphone or tablet and will include a small blood tester called Tidbit. The blood test device looks much like a countertop coffee maker and is capable of wireless transmission of data to a device for analysis.

The team plans on conducting field validation tests at an existing infectious diseases monitoring site in Guayaquil, Ecuador, with hopes of being ready for FDA approval when their research is complete.

Last month, researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering announced they are developing a low-cost test that uses small paper discs to rapidly pinpoint the Zika virus.

- check out the Cornell Chronicle article

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