INclusive diagnoStics for Poverty REIated parasitic Diseases (INSPiRED) is a research project for development and validation of inclusive, smart, easy to use, cost effective and efficient optical devices for the diagnosis of poverty related parasitic diseases in Nigeria and Gabon. The INSPiRED project consortium is collaboration of European and African partners geared towards contributing to the achievement of Social Development Goals, through control and elimination of Malaria, Schistosomiasis, and Hookworm. The project has three distinct Work Packages (WPs) with a fourth WP coordinating the collaboration between the three WPs, to facilitate the actual implementation of the diagnostic devices. The four WPs are led by five partners, namely TU Delft (Netherlands), LUMC (Netherlands), UL (Nigeria), UI (Nigeria) and CERMEL (Gabon). The Project which will span over the period of four years, was formally commenced on the 15th of June 2019 is expected to be completed by the 14th of June 2023.
The objectives of the INSPiRED project are to reduce the burden of malaria, schistosomiasis and hookworm in Nigeria and Gabon through the development of optical diagnostic devices, to conduct laboratory and field validation of these devices, and to engage stakeholders for the uptake of these devices in the healthcare systems. These activities also include more in-depth exploring of the characteristics of current available diagnostic procedures in the light of these devices. Additionally, the project is positioned to contribute to the body of knowledge in Africa and European through the training of PhD and Masters students in the project-related research fields namely: Engineering and Industrial Design, Social Networking Analysis, Field and Laboratory validation. Two PhD students have been enrolled in the graduate schools in TU Delft and one in LUMC, Leiden and Masters students in TU Delft.
Parasitic diseases are a significant source of morbidity and mortality in rural Africa. Early treatment reduces the risk of severe sequelae, but this requires access to accurate diagnosis. The current WHO- recommended diagnostic tools for detection have critical shortfalls.
The INSPIRED Project aims to improve the diagnosis of three major poverty-related diseases (malaria, schistosomiasis and hookworm infection) and therefore reduce their grave impact in endemic countries.
Our research has demonstrated that optical analysis of biological samples using automated smart algorithms integrated into a potentially low-cost multispectral optical imaging platform is a highly promising alternative diagnostic approach. This technique will be developed into instruments for blood, urine and stool analysis that cover the whole diagnostic pathway from integration of sample preparation procedures to optical reading steps (WP1).
By critically engaging and connecting different stakeholders using Social Network Analysis and Co- creation tools, we will craft inclusive product specifications that promote uptake by local healthcare systems in endemic countries (WP2).
New smart optical diagnostic devices will be thoroughly tested within a laboratory-setting, including samples from the LUMC’s Controlled Human Infection trials as well as field tested in endemic settings in Gabon and Nigeria (WP 3).
The outcomes of the three work packages will be integrated into action towards implementation (WP4).
The INSPiRED project brings together a multidisciplinary team composed of biomedical scientists, engineers, public health specialists and product designers. The team has the expertise needed to perform the entire development chain, from Research and Development (R&D), to field trials in Nigeria and Gabon.