Hopes for new generation of patient diagnostics
Launch of new global research collaboration hub at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Today sees the launch of the International Diagnostics Centre (IDC), a global research collaboration hub, created at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to undertake innovative research on the development and deployment of new diagnostic tests that enable patients to be diagnosed faster, more accurately and cost effectively.
The first of its kind in Europe, the IDC will be a revolutionary focal point, forum and centre for learning, addressing the diagnostics priorities and challenges of today. With collaborators in more than 100 countries in Africa, Asia and South America, the centre is uniquely placed to facilitate and accelerate access to quality assured diagnostics in the developing world and improve patient care and to inform disease control strategies.
Important recent advances in diagnostics, especially in point-of-care (POC) diagnostic tests for malaria, HIV, syphilis and other infectious diseases can greatly improve the quality of clinical care for those without access to laboratory tests. The centre’s work will help countries meet Millennium Development Goals and ultimately save lives and strengthen health systems.
Diagnostics success at the School includes:
- Pioneering work to assess the cost-effectiveness and utility of non-laboratory based rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for malaria.
- A recent study with collaborators in Malawi on self-testing for HIV which established an important foundation for the introduction of self-testing in high HIV prevalent populations.
- Recent research into new rapid diagnostic tests for syphilis which resulted in 100% of the study countries changing policy and recommending prenatal rapid test screening, saving thousands of lives.
Diagnostics are not prioritised in global health, as funding has been largely focused on the development and delivery of therapeutic interventions and vaccines. The lack of quality standards in the evaluation and regulation of diagnostics has also caused a proliferation of low-quality diagnostic tests to be sold and used without evidence of effectiveness, discouraging companies with good quality tests to compete in the same market.
The launch of the IDC brings together a critical mass of researchers committed to using multi-disciplinary and integrated approaches to address these challenges. By leading cutting-edge research and development of accessible quality-assured diagnostics, the centre will advocate for diagnostics in global health. It will play a pivotal role in ensuring this is the ‘Decade of Diagnostics’.
Rosanna Peeling, Professor and Chair of Diagnostics Research at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: “A new generation of diagnostic tests could save millions of people from deadly diseases like AIDS and TB in the next few years. I am delighted to launch the International Diagnostics Centre today to give a new impetus to our work and create a critical mass of expertise to address inequity of access to diagnostics, guide evidence based management of patients and strengthen health systems.”
(Image: HIV testing in Uganda. Credit: Kristen Knudson.)