South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection worldwide. For infected individuals, drug therapy depends on knowing their virus load (VL) that is, how much virus is in circulation. 6 million HIV VL tests costing $25 to $40 each are now performed each ear in SA but the test is still unavailable those without access to major health care centres and many countries elsewhere in Southern Africa. Addressing problems with low cost point-of care diagnostic tests would greatly improve diagnosis and treatment, reducing mortality and also the heavy economic burden these diseases.
The LCVD project aims to co-develop methods to rapidly design and construct cost-effective point-of-care diagnostics HIV and Hepatitis B virus load (VL) testing using CRISPR/Cas techniques to identify nucleic acids. We are also exploring the useof “cell-free” extract as a platform for education and capacity building related to diagnostics and biosensors.
The Open Bioeconomy Lab is involved to explore the intellectual property landscape and innovation ecosystem for molecular point of care diagnostics in South Africa and the context in which open approaches to IP might be beneficial or detrimental to the adoption and impact of diagnostic technology.