First lab-on-chip to detect multiple tropical infections launched

Singaporean government-backed research innovation body Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and Veredus Laboratories, a leading supplier of innovative molecular diagnostic tools, have announced the development and launch of VereTrop, the first biochip in the molecular diagnostics market that can identify 13 different major tropical diseases from a single blood sample.

Veredus is a Singapore-based majority-owned subsidiary of STMicroelectronics.

 
Inserting natural samples directly into the VereTropTM chip, allowing fast and accurate identification of various tropical diseases that share the same fever symptoms

With its high level of automation, this lab-on-chip diagnostic kit is expected to speed up the testing of tropical infectious diseases, including dengue fever, malaria, chikungunya and hand, foot and mouth disease.(See table below for list of diseases)

According to the lead virologist in this project, associate professor Lisa F P Ng from A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network (SIgN), "Tropical diseases often reflect common symptoms like fever, and may not be accurately diagnosed early by doctors. This portable test kit is a rapid and reliable method to accurately test for multiple pathogenic targets from just one blood sample in a matter of hours."

Together with professor Laurent Renia, an expert in malaria immunobiology at SIgN, the team from SIgN has successfully validated the kit on patient samples in the external fields of Northern Thailand, at the Thai-Myanmar border.

Professor Francois H Nosten, the clinical collaborator at the Oxford Clinical Unit in Mae Sot and director of the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit said, "This technology opens new possibilities for the accurate and rapid diagnostic of important infectious diseases that remain the main causes of illness in the tropics. Its versatility and ease of use will change the approach to diagnostics at the periphery of health care system."

Developed with infectious disease expertise from A*STAR's SIgN, this biochip, which operates on STMicroelectronics' Lab-on-Chip platform, was initiated between Exploit Technologies Pte Ltd (ETPL), the technology transfer arm of A*STAR, and Veredus in 2009.

ETPL funded the project from the onset to cover costs of designing the sequence probes, developing and validating the chip, up to acquiring samples for clinical validation. Prior to this, Veredus had licensed diagnostic technology from A*STAR in the areas of influenza and malaria.

"Veredus and A*STAR have worked on several collaborative projects dating back to 2004," says Dr Rosemary Tan, CEO of Veredus Laboratories.

She adds, "This latest project on VereTrop Lab-on-Chip has combined the strengths and expertise of A*STAR, Veredus, and STMicroelectronics to create a powerful multiplexed molecular product that can rapidly detect and differentiate symptomatically similar tropical infectious diseases and enable timely proper treatment."

Philip Lim, chief executive officer, ETPL, says, "After this journey of more than three years, we are glad that such a compelling technologically-advanced product with global healthcare benefits is ready to be launched to the market. Veredus is a good example of how local companies can work with A*STAR for a consistent stream of technology to develop products that can enhance their offerings and level them up to be competitive and relevant globally."

List of 13 Tropical Diseases and corresponding sub-species detected by VereTropTM
To detect
Disease
To discriminate
Subspecies
1
African trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness)
1
Trypanosoma.brucei rhodensiense (T.Br)/ Trypanosoma.brucei gambiense (T.Bg)
Human American trypanosomiasis (Chagas disease)
2
Trypanosoma.cruzi cruzi (T.Cc)
2

Malaria
3
Plasmodium falciparum (P.fal)
4
Plasmodium vivax (P.viv)
5
Plasmodium ovale (P.O)
6
Plasmodium malariae (P.m)
7
Plasmodium knowlesi (P.kn)
3
Typhoid Fever
8
Salmonella typhi (ST)
4
Leptospirosis (Weil's syndrome)
9
Leptospira.interrogans
Leptospira.borgpetersenenii
Leptospira.weilii
Leptospira.santorosai
Leptospira.alexanderi
Leptospira.noguchii
Leptospira. kirschneri
5
Melioidosis
10
Burkholderia pseudomallei (BP)
6
Chikungunya Fever
11
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV)
7
Dengue Fever
12
Dengue serotype 1 virus (DENV 1)
13
Dengue serotype 2 virus (DENV 2)
14
Dengue serotype 3 virus (DENV 3)
15
Dengue serotype 4 virus (DENV 4)
8
West Nile
16
West Nile Virus (WNV)
9
Yellow Fever
17
Yellow Fever Virus (YFV)
10
Japanese Encephalitis
18
Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV)
11
Rift Valley Fever
19
Rift Valley Virus (RVV)
12
Hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD)
20
Human enterovirus A EV-71 (EV71)
13

Hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS)
21
Puumala virus (PUUV)
22
Tula virus (TULV)
23
Dobrava-Belgrade virus (DOBV)
24
Seoul virus (SEOV)
25
Hantaan virus (HTNV)
Hantavirus Cardiopulmonary Syndrome (HCPS or HPS)
26
Andes virus (ANDV)