A Low-Cost Point-of-Care Platform for the Diagnosis of Multi-drug Resistant Tuberculosis among Syrian Refugees in Turkey
United Nations reports indicate that Turkey has sheltered the largest number of Syrian refugees (SRs), reaching over 3,691,333 in November 2019. The Turkish Ministry of Health reported a noticeable increase in the proportion of imported Tuberculosis (TB) cases relative to total TB cases with the beginning of Syrian unrest: from 1.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2015. The main objective of this project is to contribute towards the reinforcement of national and regional public health strategies currently implemented by Turkey and international organizations currently active within the framework of EU mechanisms including Medecins Dumonde, Relief International, CARE, and IMC in the effective management of TB among local populations, Syrian and other Middle Eastern refugees living in Turkey and the camps outside Turkish borders in Syria. To achieve this goal, we propose an accurate, rapid, sensitive and cost-effective point-of-care (PoC) assay to detect TB (multi-drug resistant and hypervirulent strains) among SRs living in Turkey. We will integrate this platform with an easy-to-use, mobile phone-based readout device to perform a multiplex RT-LAMP reaction (< $US 1.0) in less than 15 minutes, with diagnostic data wirelessly transmitted to clinical centers, allowing the patient to be evaluated remotely and treatment suggested at the point-of-care settings. We will collaborate with a local industrial partner, Bioeksen, Inc. for commercialization and Yedikule TB Center for a pilot validation study with patient samples. The specific educational aim of this project is to involve, train and mentor graduate and undergraduate students to translate book-based knowhow on microfluidics, microelectronics, photonics and cloud connected sensor nodes to create novel medical biotechnology, and enhance the availability and accuracy of medical diagnostics to support public health authorities and non-governmental organizations. Specific educational examples based on nucleic acid amplification and its adaptation for PoC via microelectronics will be developed for undergraduate and graduate courses.