Isolation, amplification, and detection of DNA and RNA sequences in “molecular diagnostic” devices are at the forefront of modern diagnostic medicine. Such technologies offer unprecedented sensitivity and specificity in the detection of infectious disease. Molecular diagnostics are typically very expensive, large, and require a modern laboratory and trained technicians to operate---greatly restricting the use of molecular diagnostic tools in the developing world.
DFA is building paper-based technology to perform molecular diagnostics on an extremely inexpensive, disposable device. DFA is currently developing a nucleic acid amplification-based paper-microfluidic device for early infant diagnosis of HIV under a Saving Lives at Birth grant. Prior test kit development included a DARPA-funded effort to identify E. coli and a DTRA-funded effort with Harvard University focused on Brucella abortus. We believe our approach represents a fundamental shift in the field of nucleic acid detection that can bring NAAT testing away from the lab and make is fully accessible in the developing world.
A molecular diagnostic device could address needs in many disease areas worldwide, both chronic and infectious. At DFA, we are exploring the potential uses of a molecular diagnostic kit in a variety of scenarios. In addition to infant HIV, DFA is also pursuing opportunities to develop a disposable diagnostic kit to identify Ebola in the earliest stages of infection and another kit to identify Hepatitis C.
Learn more about DFA's NAAT test kit in this brief video. (2015)