Making at-home-molecular tests affordable, actionable and sustainable

Taking diagnostic testing to patients’ homes offers many advantages for global healthcare, and progress in molecular diagnostics unlocks new potential in this space. However, test devices for home use need to achieve low manufacturing costs while meeting stringent regulatory requirements. This article considers practical ways to address these constraints and discusses other considerations such as usability, sensitivity & specificity in devices for home-use.

Advances in techniques for the detection of DNA and RNA have enabled the development of simple but effective tests that take minutes to perform. This opens new avenues for diagnostic testing outside the clinical laboratory, in point of care settings or even in patients’ homes.

Decentralising molecular diagnostic testing presents many benefits for global health. Better access to testing facilitates the enablement of earlier treatment as well as engagement with people who might not otherwise get tested. It lets patients avoid unnecessary trips to the physician and can reduce use of antibiotics in markets where they are available without a prescription. During the COVID-19 pandemic, at-home diagnostic testing took off in a big way, helping to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and introducing many people to the convenience of this model.

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