World First for Malaria – mobile phone diagnosis now available
xRapid is a world first in mobile health, providing automatic diagnosis of malaria via an iPhone app. It is the first commercially available mobile app that has the functionality to quickly and accurately diagnose a major disease.
xRapid is a London based start-up that for the past 18 months has been developing an iPhone app for the automatic diagnosis of malaria. Founded in 2014, xRapid utilises a state of the art portable microscope and a pattern recognition algorithm to identify the malaria parasite quickly, accurately and at a lower cost than other current methods. With an App Store release and distribution underway, xRapid heralds a new direction in disease case management and mobile health as an industry.
Malaria is a truly global disease. Not only do 3.2 billion people live under the threat of contracting it, it is often fatal to children under five and is a major contributor to poverty in developing countries. Malaria has also been a big topic in the news in 2015. The rise of drug resistant strains in South East Asia has been a constant concern. On a more positive note however, we have seen the progress the world has made against malaria in line with the Millennium Development Goals. Added to this, a Nobel prize for Tu Youyou; the Chinese researcher who invented the most effective and widely used treatment for malaria, shows increasing recognition of the need to tackle the disease on a global scale.
xRapid is looking to disrupt the current methods of testing by creating a stronger solution. Testing is vitally important in malaria case management as it links the challenges of treatment, drug resistance and vaccine research. Treating malaria patients early and avoiding the over prescription of drugs relies heavily on testing, whilst the efficacy of a vaccine can only be qualified through screening programmes.
Testing for malaria needs to be fast, accurate and cheap. The problem with current methods is that they can either be slow, expensive and time consuming or inaccurate and unstable. xRapid brings together the strengths of current methods while avoiding the flaws; it provides speed, accuracy and accessibility in its method and a lower cost per test than anything else on the market. Add this to all of the smart potential of mobile phone applications and users begin to see a very competitive product.
Improving diagnostic testing is an important breakthrough in the management of any disease. However, there is potential for xRapid beyond individual results and even beyond testing for malaria alone. The retention of information that smartphone technology allows makes for a powerful disease mapping tool, and if apps like xRapid are used widely the data collected could contribute towards predicting future outbreaks. The pattern recognition method also has the potential to spot other diseases. xRapid CEO and Co-founder Jean Viry-Babel says they won’t stop at malaria alone:
“This is just the beginning; we are already working on expanding xRapid to test and diagnose other diseases from tuberculosis to Lyme disease. Right now we are very excited to
be the first iPhone app to diagnose a major disease like malaria. Half of the global population is at risk, and we are very proud to be doing our part in improving the lives of those affected. The mHealth revolution is starting to help people all over the world and we are thrilled to be part of it.”
– Jean Viry-Babel, xRapid CEO
xRapid has tested its product in conjunction with the National Reference Centre for Malaria in Paris. Using an extensive bank of slides, xRapid has conducted exhaustive experimental testing over the previous nine months to assure the efficacy of their method. This quality assurance has led to trials in Ghana and Uganda and even early commercial adoption of the technology in Indonesia, Benin and Angola.
Re-thinking diagnostics has been a talking point in discussions around reducing the burden of malaria and other infectious diseases. Last year Bill Gates spoke in an address to the American Society of Tropical Medicine about the importance of innovations within treatment, vaccines and diagnostics in fulfilling the goal of eradicating malaria within the 21st century. Technologies like xRapid are undeniably contributing to this effort, and the London based team are dedicated to making a big impact.
xRapid produces mobile software that automates malaria testing for users across the health sector in endemic countries. xRapid provides a cheaper, faster and more accurate solution for those in the laboratory and in the field, whilst continuing research into diagnosing further diseases and streamlining current methods. xRapid headquarters are based in London, with
a technical office running from Jakarta, Indonesia. These offices are headed up by CEO Jean Viry-Babel and CTO Professor David Mendels respectively.
xRapid is dedicated to providing innovative diagnostic solutions for some of the world’s most prevalent diseases. It heralds a new direction in disease case management and mobile health as an industry. Visit www.xRapid.org for more details.
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