Cambridge Consultants to develop test for Ebola virus

30 December 2014 3 min. read

Consulting firm Cambridge Consultants will, together with non-profit organisation Diagnostics For All, develop a simple and low-cost device to be used to test patients for the Ebola Virus. The newly device will allow on-sight testing by minimally trained healthcare workers with results within 45 minutes. The project is expected to be in the field in six months and is funded with a $1 million grant of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Currently, diagnosing Ebola is extremely challenging, from a logistical perspective, especially in rural areas. The patients will have to go to a clinic to get their blood drawn, which will then be transferred to a lab and tested, after which the health workers must then find the patient. As this process could take hours or days between taking a blood sample and providing medical treatment, an infected patient could already been spreading the virus.

Cambridge Consultants - Diagnostics for all - Massachusetts life sciences center

To speed up and simplify the process, product design and development firm Cambridge Consultants had partnered up with non-profit organisation Diagnostics For All to develop a low-cost device to test patients for the Ebola virus. The new device will be simple to use and delivers results quickly, which will make it possible to test patients in areas where there is little or no access to healthcare facilities and trained doctors, nurses and lab technicians to administer the tests. The project is funded by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, a centre that supports innovation-driven economic development initiatives, with a grant of $1 million.

The new device will allow minimally trained health workers to administer and run the test, without a lab, and get results within an hour. As the Ebola test will be a handheld, single-use disposable device that is smaller than a deck of cards, the test can be taken anywhere. To administer the test, the health worker will prick a patient's finger and directly apply a droplet of blood on to the device after which the device will diagnose the blood, a process that will take less than an hour. The device is expected to be developed, produced and in field testing within six months and will cost less than $10 per cartridge.

New Ebola testing device

“Simple, low-cost testing tools that require minimal training to use are becoming essential in developing countries where the virus outbreak is most severe. The combination of our systems design, mechanical engineering and human factors skills with Diagnostics For All’s vision and expertise in molecular diagnostics can help transform the way that health workers provide point-of-care diagnosis – and subsequent treatment – in at-risk areas,” comments David Chastain, Programme Manager at Cambridge Consultants.

Cambridge Consultants has 50 years of experience in developing technology products, including diagnostic, surgical and drug delivery devices. The new Ebola test is one of many recently developed devices to help the healthcare industry. Recently, the consulting firm also developed the Chimaera – a device to be used by neurosurgeons to deliver small implants in the nervous system, and the KiCoPen – a smart injection pen to be used by diabetes patients.