Tailoring treatments to each patient’s disease first requires a deep molecular understanding of each patient’s specific illness. That’s why diagnostic tools are the foundation of all personalized healthcare.
Shana Kelley, professor of chemistry and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Toronto, is developing highly sensitive and rapid tools that can be used to capture this molecular-level information without a fancy specialized lab. And when it comes to diagnosing infectious diseases, time is of the essence.
AuRA is a diagnostic system that is not only faster than conventional lab testing, but it also eliminates the time-intensive need for transportation. It can be deployed anywhere to perform rapid analysis of the nucleic acids, such as DNA, in a sample.
“The AuRA technology is particularly effective for the diagnosis of infectious disease,” says Kelley. “It allows us to get a really rapid read on whether or not an infectious pathogen is present in a sample. And rapid diagnosis of infectious disease is very important to limit the spread of infections, and also to limit things like antibiotic resistance.”
Portable technologies are particularly important when access to centralized laboratory testing is limited. This includes remote locations and developing nations.
“In the developing world, there are many types of infectious disease that are really rampant and very problematic — things like Hepatitis C, tuberculosis,” explains Kelley.
“These are difficult infections to diagnose, and in parts of the world where you don’t have sophisticated laboratories where samples can be analyzed, it’s really helpful to have portable tools. And our AuRA approach is amenable to being incorporated into a very portable type of testing system.”
Rapid testing at the point of care could even give patients and their healthcare teams immediate answers, within minutes instead of days.
“We have an amazing opportunity to really push the frontiers in terms of the types of tools that we can give to physicians that allow them to practice medicine more effectively and provide better care for their patients,” adds Kelley.
“That’s an incredible opportunity, an incredible type of problem to be able to work on every day. It’s pretty easy to get out of bed every morning with that waiting for you.”