AAPS 2016

Lab-on-a-chip diagnostics to enable affordable research

By Melissa Fassbender contact

- Last updated on GMT

(Imagee: Jacqueline McBride/NEWSLINE Frederick Balagadde shows microfluidic device)
(Imagee: Jacqueline McBride/NEWSLINE Frederick Balagadde shows microfluidic device)

Related tags: Africa

Researchers in sub-Saharan Africa have developed a plug-and-play lab-on-a-chip - a ‘nontraditional approach’ to a global problem, says AAPS plenary speaker.

The first full day of AAPS 2016 kicked off yesterday morning with a plenary session advances in pharmaceutical sciences to drive prevention and cures.

We’re living in world that’s getting more and more connected​,” said Frederick Balagadde, Ph.D., KwaZulu-Natal Research Institute for TB and HIV (K-RITH), and AAPS plenary speaker.

Balagadde explained that while many of these issues, such as the Ebola outbreak, originate as third world problems, “in a globally interconnected world they affect everyone​.”

To address these issues, Balagadde and his team of researchers at K-RITH - the first microfluidics research facility in Africa - are developing microfluidic systems to increase access to affordable healthcare.

We need to think of nontraditional approaches​,” he said, after demonstrating on a map that the world’s poorest countries carry the biggest proportion of infection disease.

The traditional approaches to solving this problem are inadequate in many ways​,” he explained.

The systems Balagadde and his team are developing in Africa put the capabilities of a medical laboratory, and all of its staff, onto a small portable device.

If one healthcare worker is doing the work of 100, research becomes much more affordable​,” said Balagadde.

Ultimately, Balagadde explained that through these system, the researchers could “create value that can be of usefulness to the rest of the world​,” and as such, add sub-Saharan Africa into “the global value creating system​.”

To learn more about Balagadde's work in microfluidics, watch his 2010 TEDTalk below.

Related topics: Preclinical Research

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