Year/Course: 2015-2016, Easter 2016

Contact: Dr. Tanya Hutter, Chemistry
Mentor: Dr. Dora Pereira, Pathology

Anaemia is a wide-spread condition that results in loss of energy and increased susceptibility to other diseases. It is associated with poor diets, in particular vegetarian diets, and is widespread in many parts of the developing world. Certain populations are also prone to the hereditary disease of sickle-cell anaemia, which causes chronic pain in adults and children.

Dr. Hutter has developed a low-cost system for measuring red blood cells using just a drop of blood, which allows anaemia and sickle cell anaemia to be detected straight away by a non-expert, avoiding the wait for diagnosis resulting from the the need to store, transport and analyse samples. The cells in a small microfluidic chip are viewed under a microscope, for example a microscope attached to a standard smartphone, and software / app analyses the images to produce the results.

The question for the i-Team is to investigate the need for such a system in the developing world, and to find out whether it could help make a real difference to people’s health. If so, in which countries and in which contexts might the system have the greatest impact? Who would be the best partners to work with to have such a system adopted and used?