Innovation

NEST360º’s low-cost jaundice detector passes first test in Africa


By Texas Medical Center | December 4, 2017

The first clinical study of a low-cost, hand-held jaundice detector invented by Rice University students couldn’t have come at a better time for NEST360°, an international team of scientists, doctors and global health experts preparing for a Dec. 11 competition for $100 million from the MacArthur Foundation. The money would allow the team to carry out its visionary plan to halve the number of newborn deaths in African hospitals within 10 years.

“As the clinical study of BiliSpec shows, saving newborn lives in sub-Saharan Africa is achievable,” said NEST360°‘s Rebecca Richards-Kortum, a Rice bioengineering professor and study co-author who has worked for more than a decade to bring effective, affordable neonatal technologies like BiliSpec to Africa. “It simply requires the right tools in the right hands at the right time.”

The clinical study, which is based on tests in February and March on 68 patients at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi, will appear this week in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

BiliSpec is a low-cost, battery-powered reader designed to diagnose jaundice by immediately quantifying serum bilirubin levels from a small drop of whole blood. Jaundice, which is caused by the buildup of bilirubin in the bloodstream, affects about 60 percent of newborns and can cause severe, untreatable brain damage or death if it is untreated. Standard jaundice tests require multiple expensive disposables and laboratory equipment like centrifuges or spectrophotometers that African hospitals typically cannot afford.

Babies in sub-Saharan Africa are about 100 times more likely to die of jaundice than are babies in the U.S., partly because doctors diagnosing jaundice in sub-Saharan Africa have little to go on other than what their eyes tell them.

“Clinicians in sub-Saharan Africa typically diagnose jaundice by looking at a child and gauging the color of their skin or the whites of their eyes,” said study co-author Pelham Keahey, a Rice applied physics graduate student who worked alongside clinicians at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital to gather data for the study.

The study showed that BiliSpec has comparable accuracy to the more expensive laboratory tests found in high-resource settings. Each BiliSpec test costs about 5 cents and can be performed in about two minutes right at the patient’s bedside. The price is important because it could bring testing for jaundice within reach for cash-strapped hospitals in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The next step is a larger, two-year follow-up study of efficacy and usability that will be conducted at five hospitals in Malawi,” Keahey said. Rice won funding for the follow-up study in August from Saving Lives at Birth, a joint undertaking by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the governments of Norway, Canada and South Korea.

BiliSpec is one component of a 17-piece neonatal package called NEST, short for Newborn Essential Solutions and Technologies, that is designed specifically for African hospitals.

Study co-authors include graduate student Mathieu Simeral, undergraduate student Kristofer Schroder and postdoctoral research associate Meaghan Bond, all of Rice; Dr. Queen Dube and Prince Mtenthaonnga, both of the Department of Pediatrics at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital; and Robert Miros of 3rd Stone Design in San Rafael, Calif.

The study was supported by USAID.

………………..

Watch a video of NEST360°.

A copy of the paper will be available at: www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1714020114

MacArthur Foundation 100&Change home page: https://www.100andchange.org/

Rice 360°’s 100&Change: https://www.macfound.org/Rice360

Richards-Kortum, Oden, Palamountain: All babies deserve a chance to live — Houston Chronicle, Nov. 18, 2016
http://www.rice360.rice.edu/single-post/2016/11/18/Richards-Kortum-Oden-Palamountain-All-Babies-Deserve-a-Chance-to-Survive

NEST 360°: http://www.rice360.rice.edu/nest

How good design can save 1 million babies per year — Rice Magazine, Winter 2017:
http://magazine.rice.edu/2017/01/breathe-easy-repeat/

Rice 360° home page: http://www.rice360.rice.edu/




Social Posts

profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

The three focus areas of our Prostate #CancerMoonshot: - overcoming treatment resistance - exploring #immunotherapy - understanding the tumor environment Learn more: https://t.co/0ZQCm8tMdR #PCSM #endcancer

2 hours ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

The @GlasscockSchool's fall course catalog is chock-full of offerings for ever-curious learners, including classes in the humanities and sciences, foreign languages and personal and professional development. https://t.co/A793BrcLfz https://t.co/8a1K8LbHE2

3 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Last Shasta County Navy Veteran who survived Pearl Harbor attack laid to rest https://t.co/lc5ODzbk9l via @JimSchultz_RS

3 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

One internal medicine resident looks back at a time where a patient helped him realize the balance of overly identifying with patients and complete detachment. https://t.co/7xsFWEhVc4

3 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Santa Clarita Air Force Veteran Launches Campaign For Web Series To Depict Modern Soldier Life https://t.co/Td0ds3jxue via @KHTSRADIO

4 hours ago
profile_image

Veterans Affairs

@DeptVetAffairs

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is @USArmy Veteran Stanley Nelson. https://t.co/SHml8yEysj

4 hours ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

Thank you @MBThewoodlands for supporting student scholarships at @MDA_UTHGrad! It also is hosting our next House Calls web chat on sports medicine this Thursday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m. CST at https://t.co/N5UU1Jx4pq. Submit a question for our experts by using #UTHealthHouseCalls.

5 hours ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

RT @abc13houston: The most common sports injuries are strains and sprains, but do you know when you might need to see a doctor? The experts…

5 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @BCMHouston_News: Tune in to @FOX26Houston tomorrow in the 8 am hour to hear @bcmhouston's Dr. El-Serag discuss the recent CDC report on…

6 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

#Cancerpain can be related to the disease and treatment. Hear from Dr. Salahadin Abdi on how patients can find relief. #endcancer https://t.co/snFVjDUjNe

6 hours ago
profile_image

TexasHeartInstitute

@Texas_Heart

RT @HealthyWomen: 10 Sneaky Ways to Get Fruits and Veggies in Your #Diet: https://t.co/wJ9x39147k #health https://t.co/EWktCmct2J

6 hours ago
profile_image

BCMHouston

@bcmhouston

RT @BCMHouston_News: Certain nail products can cause allergic reactions or irritations. @bcmhouston's Dr. Katta shares what to look out for…

7 hours ago
profile_image

MD Anderson Cancer Center

@MDAndersonNews

@ParrotsMatter @TargetedOnc @michaelwangmd Hi, yes we are. Here's a list of current clinical trials: https://t.co/JgHpaIKBbX. Best wishes to you.

7 hours ago
profile_image

Rice University

@RiceUniversity

RT @RiceAthletics: To celebrate #WorldEmojiDay, check out our favorite mascot @SammyTheOwl! 🦉👐 https://t.co/ebIKcsu2Z9

7 hours ago
profile_image

UTHealth

@UTHealth

RT @abc13houston: A workout injury can happen to anyone, no matter your experience or fitness level. Learn about treatment options and how…

7 hours ago