NBT gives medical providers a powerful screening tool for remote areas with limited resources
Bloomington, MN (PRWEB) January 30, 2015
In the 2015 Gates Annual Letter released on Jan. 22, Bill and Melinda Gates set a goal to improve the lives of the poor faster in the next 15 years than through any time in history. The Gates Foundation has shown a consistent dedication to fighting a disease that has one of the biggest impacts on those in poverty - tuberculosis.
Ancon Medical Inc.’s innovative Nanoparticle Biomarker Tagging (NBT) disease screening technology has the capability to make early detection of tuberculosis (TB) a reality. To help accelerate the technology’s development, the company has applied for a grant from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to fund further research and clinical trials.
NBT technology enables medical providers to screen for TB with a simple breath test that is easy to use, non-invasive and fast. The technology can detect very low concentrations of the TB biomarkers that act as a molecular signature for the diseases, giving medical personnel unprecedented selectivity and sensitivity compared with similar technology.
Though virtually eradicated in developed countries, TB is still one of the world’s most widespread diseases and inflicts a disproportionate impact on those in underdeveloped countries. Nine million new cases of TB are diagnosed every year and 1.5 million died from the disease in 2014. Of those cases, 3 million won’t be diagnosed, further accelerating spread of the disease.
“Like most other diseases that cause so much suffering in underdeveloped areas, early detection of tuberculosis is crucial to halting its spread, but due to insufficient resources and technology, there’s no way for doctors and nurses to identify sick individuals in time for treatment,” said Wesley Baker, Ancon Medical president. “Ancon Medical has developed powerful and affordable technology that can deliver advanced tuberculosis diagnostics capabilities to the poorest regions in the world.”
At its inception in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation identified TB as one of its primary worldwide health challenges, and it’s funded scores of projects advancing research into the disease. The Gates Foundation has not only shown a dedication to fighting TB, it’s also shown commitment to a productive strategy of vaccine delivery, diagnostics and drugs to address the epidemic.
Thanks in part to work by the Gates Foundation, advances are being made in the fight against TB, as the worldwide mortality rate fell 45 percent between 1990 and 2012. Despite this progress, TB still remains the world’s second-most deadly disease behind HIV/AIDS, as halting the disease’s spread in poor areas remains a challenge.
In 2012,the Foundation pointed to the need for a breakthrough in research on TB biomarkers when it announced nearly $8 million in funding to develop TB diagnosis in low-resource settings.
Ancon Medical’s NBT technology is an ideal technical solution for the very low-resource settings described by the Gates Foundation. Currently, TB is diagnosed through examination of blood samples and chest x-rays, requiring highly-trained medical personnel and advanced technology, whereas NBT’s breath detection technology offers a screening system that is critically needed in the fight against TB.
An NBT device offers a diagnosis at the point-of-care within one hour. Among its advantages, NBT is portable, affordable, needs only minimal electrical power and doesn’t require a laboratory setting or a highly-skilled operator.
“NBT gives medical providers a powerful screening tool for remote areas with limited resources,” Baker said. “With NBT technology, it’s possible to conduct mass screenings that can result in timely and more-effective treatments that can impact the spread of the disease and potentially save countless lives.”
The project grant is needed to fund pilot clinical trials of the NBT diagnostic system with the overall goal of demonstrating the ability to successfully detect tuberculosis. These trials will lay the groundwork for larger scale trials needed to validate the biomarkers and obtain regulatory approval from the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies. The project will also test the utility of a novel, low-cost disposable breath sampler.
Additionally, with further development, NBT technology can be used to screen for a wide array of disease biomarkers in addition to TB, including Ebola and lung cancer.
Ancon Medical, and its associated company Ancon Research Ltd., has patents on NBT technology in both the U.S. and United Kingdom. Ancon Medical is a member of LifeScience Alley, a biomedical trade association based in Minnesota.