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Emerging technologies redefine infectious disease diagnostics:F&S

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Diagnostics research for infectious diseases recieve little funding

The diagnostics market for infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus and human papilloma virus is expanding, giving rise to commercial opportunities especially in the developing economies of Asia, Africa and Latin America. The urgent measures taken by governments to minimise healthcare expenditure, owing to both economic and political pressures, are driving the demand particularly for high-through put automated diagnostic platforms and point-of-care testing devices.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (F&S), Emerging Technologies in Infectious Diseases Diagnostics, finds that the market is characterised by the constant introduction of improved devices and technologies due to their short lifecycle. For instance, new molecular technologies for the screening of drug-resistant TB are replacing culture-based tests, which are slow, require
experienced personnel, and need stringent microbiological safety precautions.

“Startup companies are developing diagnostic technologies from a vast array of sources and
disciplines, which is giving rise to new kinds of diagnostic devices,” said Technical Insights
Research Analyst Geethu Roshan Verghese. “This is the case for molecular diagnostic technologies, where a variety of technology disciplines has converged to create enabling technology platforms that can address factors like low cost and point-of-care usage”.

Sustainable local manufacturing of infectious diagnostic products still remains a challenge for
emerging nations. Not only does it require adequate skills and infrastructure at each stage
of the process but also a conscious assessment of quality, safety and regulatory issues. Funding is another challenge. Despite its crucial role in disease control, diagnostics research for
infectious diseases receive surprisingly little funding in comparison with other areas of
translational research such as drug and vaccine development.

Research to build diagnostic tests along with a robust detection system also needs predictive
markers to be identified and validated. Such a process demands multidisciplinary research groups ranging from life scientists for biomarkers discovery to physicists and engineers for
instrument design. In this regard, new business models associated with commercial health
management are emerging, and partnerships and alliance models seem to be the best way forward.

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