Rhoel Dinglasan receives US health award for smartphone COVID-19 test

Rhoel Dinglasan
Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan is a world-renowned scientist whose research primarily revolves on finding a vaccine to curb malaria transmission. Photo from Vivo UFL.

Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan and his team of researchers won a prestigious award from the technology competition sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a rapid, smartphone-based saliva test they developed which could diagnose COVID-19, along with other blood-borne diseases such as malaria and anemia.

The group placed second in the NIH Technology Accelerator Challenge (NTAC) which awarded a total of $1 million for the six winners of the competition. The challenge encouraged the design and development of non-invasive, handheld digital platforms to detect sickle cell disease (SCD), malaria, and anemia. Part of the challenge’s criteria also stipulated a low cost and accessible innovation to diagnose the ailments.

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The University of Florida (UF) professor collaborated with Luminostics, a start-up company based in California to devise the “CLIP-CAM technology” for the NIH challenge. The technology involves the use of “an adapter attached to a smartphone that allows for a detection cassette to be inserted into a slot. The camera flash is used to excite the detection system in the cassette, which can then be read by a smartphone app.”

Dinglasan says the results from the test would be available in less than 15 minutes. He also remarked that the test is easily self-administered, without assistance from healthcare workers or laboratories.

The professor and his team came up with a creative solution to address the need for an accessible and accurate testing device for the COVID-19 virus, which presents with symptoms similar to several well-established diseases like malaria.

Rhoel Dinglasan’s smartphone-based saliva test.

The challenge is supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which will separately consider and assess the submissions of the prize winners for follow-on funding including grants of up to $500,000 and in-kind support.

The University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health collaborated with the Department of Science and Technology to develop the country’s first locally-made COVID 19 test kit.

Meanwhile, local efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus are ongoing.

Possible treatment options for the virus are currently being investigated at the University of the Philippines-Philippine General Hospital (UP-PGH), including natural medicines such as Lagundi and Virgin coconut oil (VCO) for COVID-19 positive patients that are in moderate and severe conditions.

The same hospital has also started its clinical studies on Convalescent Plasma Transfusion which involves the use of plasma taken from the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients for transfusion to patients in the hopes that these contain neutralizing antibodies against the disease to help boost immune systems to fight off infections.

SEND CHEERS in the comments below to Rhoel Dinglasan and his team for receiving the United States health award for the smartphone COVID-19 test.

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