Rapid design and fielding of four diagnostic technologies in Sierra Leone, Thailand, Peru, and Australia: Successes and challenges faced introducing these biosensors

Document Type




Publication Date



Febrile illnesses are among the most common reasons for visits to hospitals and clinics worldwide. Since fevers can arise from a wide range of diseases, identifying the causative pathogen is essential not only for effective personal treatment but also for early detection of outbreaks. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) tasked a coalition of commercial, academic, and government researchers with moving diagnostic technology concepts from ideation to field use as rapidly as possible using scientifically sound evaluations. DTRA's 24 Month Challenge program examined >30 technologies before fielding four technologies on four continents. >10,000 in field test results were recorded. Here we discuss our tiered evaluation system to assess candidate technologies developed by commercial partners and the process of field testing those technologies at various front-line clinics in Sierra Leone, Thailand, Peru, and Australia. We discuss successes and challenges for introducing two multiplexed lateral flow immunoassay(LFI) tests that detect malaria, dengue fever, melioidosis, and the plague. Additionally we discuss the use of a LFI reader that assisted the interpretation of the assay, communicated results to a data cloud, and greatly facilitated reach-back support. Lastly, we discuss the concurrent field testing of a multiplexed PCR assay on the FilmArray platform, which had an assay pouch specially designed for the 24 Month Challenge. Either standard-of-care or gold-standard testing were run alongside our fielded technologies to benchmark their performance.

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2018, Science Direct

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbsr.2018.06.003