Fil-Am profâs COVID-19 test bags US award
Rhoel Dinglasan, a University of Florida (UF) professor, and his collaborators for the development of the saliva-based diagnostic test kit that can be administered through smartphones, recently won second place in the first United States National Institutes of Health Technology Accelerator Challenge or NTAC.
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Fil-Am prof’s COVID-19 test bags US award
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - September 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A Filipino-American academic researcher has bagged a prestigious award for leading a successful innovative research to develop a smartphone-based rapid test kit that can diagnose not only coronavirus disease 2019, but also malaria and anemia, two diseases of major global importance.

Rhoel Dinglasan, a University of Florida (UF) professor, and his collaborators for the development of the saliva-based diagnostic test kit that can be administered through smartphones, recently won second place in the first United States National Institutes of Health (NIH) Technology Accelerator Challenge or NTAC.

The UF Health, made up of the university’s two academic hospitals – Shands Hospital in Gainesville and another in Jacksonville – said Dinglasan is a professor of infectious diseases with its College of Veterinary Medicine, and director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Southeastern Center of Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases. Along with two others, Dinglasan was one of six winners of the NTAC.

The university said the competition was held to encourage the design and development of innovative diagnostic platforms for assessing two major vascular diseases, one of which had to include sickle cell disease, malaria or anemia.

Other criteria included accessibility, low cost and the use of a mobile device or a portable attachment to the device.

Dinglasan’s team will receive $200,000 for their entry in the competition, which offered a total of $1 million in prizes to the winners.

“We already had a test that we developed for malaria, but this test will go further,” he told UF Health.

“This test will leverage existing technology to fill a pressing and unmet need in global public health by allowing us to differentiate between three diseases that can present similarly in terms of symptoms. As treatment and containment protocols differ for each disease, the proper diagnosis delivered in literally minutes could save lives,” he was quoted as saying.

Dinglasan, who is also associated with the UF’s Emerging Pathogens Institute, started the collaboration for the saliva test kit when he was approached earlier this year by Luminostics, a startup company based in California that was interested in the competition.

The company’s chief executive officer Bala Raja reached out to Dinglasan in March to collaborate on the challenge submission after seeing a paper in Science Translational Medicine in which Dinglasan’s team reported on their saliva-based rapid diagnostic test for malaria.

“I thought there would be great synergy between his group’s biomarker discovery skills and our platform for rapid diagnostics,” Raja told UF Health.

The collaboration successfully developed the ?CLIP-CAM, an adapter attached to a smartphone that allows a detection cassette to be inserted into a slot. The camera flash is used to excite the detection system in the cassette, which can then be read by a smartphone app.

Results are available in 15 minutes or less, according to Dinglasan.

“We will leverage our leading-edge CLIP platform for the sensitive detection of the novel coronavirus as well as established protein and serological salivary biomarkers for malaria, anemia and COVID-19,” he was quoted as saying by UF Health.

He noted that anyone can administer the test to themselves, meaning there is no laboratory required, and no health care worker is needed at any point in the process.

“It’s kind of a selfie for your health, isn’t it?” Dinglasan said. “It’s self-collected; you do it for yourself and your health.”

COVID-19
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