The broader impact/commercial potential of this I-Corps project is the improvement of the quality of life of patients. Modern medicine relies heavily on the use of laboratory analysis to assess patient health, diagnose disease and monitor treatment efficacy. Many laboratory tests can be performed speedily at low cost, whereas other tests are expensive and take more time due to their need for skilled technicians and costly instruments. This project involves development of a rapid, low cost, point of care (POC) diagnostic system that can measure hormone levels with the sensitivity and specificity of clinical lab-based tests using only a single drop of blood. Currently, the high cost of laboratory-based hormonal tests is a barrier to their use in the diagnosis and treatment of hypogonadism in aging men and clinical management of gender non-conforming populations. An accurate and affordable hormone POC tests will allow more patients to receive optimal hormone therapy, reducing treatment side effects and improving patient quality of life. The proposed low cost, accurate, POC diagnostic system will improve the health care of rural populations, impoverished communities and third world countries. The proposed system also has veterinary applications that will improve animal health and the economics of the sector.

This I-Corps project involves a technology that combined recent advances in nanotechnology, instrumentation, biology and medicine in a low cost, portable diagnostic test system that can accurately measure free testosterone at the point of care (POC) using blood collected from a finger prick. It will include a novel strip like sensor and a reading unit that can be interfaced with any smart phone/tablet. The sensor can selectively capture testosterone molecules from the blood sample and produce an optical signal proportional to the concentration present in the sample. As opposed to currently available technology, the sensor does not include antibodies in the recognition system, which results in longer shelf-time, lower cost and higher reliability. The reading unit will communicate via Bluetooth and/or WiFi interface, and interact with different mobile platforms; and include privacy-preserving features to address patient privacy concerns. The system will also provide information directly to the physician using encryption code and provide a support a telemedicine environment. The assessment feature of our product will lead to the improvement of doctor's diagnosis, which will result in an improvement on patient health. Proof-of-concept was demonstrated in 2018 and beta prototype will be complete by the end of summer 2019.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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University of Missouri-Columbia
United States
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