Novel portable device holds promise for cancer diagnosis in sub-Saharan Africa: Cornell University

AFRICA – According to the highly-ranked Ivy League institution Cornell University, a portable diagnostic device designed by researchers at Cornell Engineering and Weill Cornell Medicine has been deployed in clinical tests in Uganda to identify cases of Kaposi sarcoma (KS).

The Ivy League school has received a US$4 million grant from the National Cancer Institute Center for Global Health that will be used to kickstart the rollout of the new portable diagnostic device in sub-Saharan Africa.

The portable system dubbed KS-COMPLETE, which has been deployed in Africa since 2017, is shown to be highly accurate and the device generates results within the hour at the point of care, Cornell reported.

The technology was developed by David Erickson, the Sibley College Professor of Mechanical Engineering in Cornell Engineering and Dr. Ethel Cesarman, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The KS-COMPLETE platform will consist of two components namely the SLICER system that automatically processes a biopsy sample into “micro-cores” that can be entered into the pint-sized TINY and the TINY diagnostic then identifies the presence of the Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpesvirus.

In clinical tests based on 506 biopsies collected from patients at three HIV clinics in Uganda, TINY has achieved 97% sensitivity, 92% specificity and 96% accuracy, reveals a forthcoming study from the project team.

The novel portable diagnostic will help medical professionals, researchers and other health experts to identify cases of Kaposi sarcoma at a time when the shortage of diagnostic testing and pathology experts has led to long waits and sometimes erroneous results.

In addition, the researchers are hopeful the KS-COMPLETE platform could eventually be used to diagnose other skin diseases beyond Kaposi sarcoma as well as to provide large-scale screening in areas such as wastewater treatment for the coronavirus.

The university’s paper Cornell Chronical said that the rollout is expanding to 11 sites throughout sub-Saharan Africa including locations in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Botswana and Malawi in a bid to improve the availability of essential diagnostics in the region.

By generating results within the hour at the point of care, KS-COMPLETE is accelerating the speed of accurate diagnosis and eventually treatment for patients,” said the Cornell Chronical.

The Project Lead David Erickson revealed that the rollout of the advanced technology aims to change the paradigm of the way Kaposi sarcoma is diagnosed in sub-Saharan Africa.

One of the most common and deadly cancers in sub-Saharan Africa, Kaposi sarcoma is a cancer of the cells that line blood or lymphatic vessels, and it usually appears as lesions on the skin, inside the mouth, lymph nodes, or in the lungs or digestive tract.

We can hopefully reduce the amount of time-to-result by returning the diagnosis right there where the patient is, without having to send it out to an external expert. Hopefully that quicker return of a result gets the patient access to care quicker, and improve clinical outcomes.”,” Erickson added.

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