The detection of life-threatening infectious diseases – malaria, hepatitis, tuberculosis, and pneumonia – in their latent stages poses a scientific problem, especially in low-resources settings. This project involved optimizing nucleic acid testing (NAT) assays for the sensitive detection of these pathogens and the application of this detection technology in the development of point-of-care diagnostic devices.
PCR, which is the gold standard in the detection of pathogenic diseases worldwide, is a centralized system involving a significant amount of sample preparation, manual involvement, power consumption, and often requires the use of additional bulky equipment. One of the major challenges was to miniaturize this system while not compromising on its performance, and we were successfully able to achieve it for hard-to-identify diseases like tuberculosis and malaria.
This project was done as part of the assay development team at bigtec Labs Pvt. Ltd. in Bangalore, India from January 2011 to December 2013.