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The "Hidden Histories" behind Lacewing

Updated: Mar 21, 2022

The Imperial College London Institute of Infection has launched this month The Communicators in Residence programme, a novel multimedia initiative in collaboration with Imperial’s Science Communication Unit aimed at unfolding the ways past and present researchers and experts have contributed to global infectious disease research.

The multimedia inaugural project, called Hidden Histories of Infectious Disease Research, explores hidden histories and voices behind infectious diseases research and the role of interdisciplinarity in dissolving the traditional boundaries between disciplines, leading to innovation.

One of the hidden histories featured in the programme is about the interdisciplinary team – part of the Digital Diagnostics for Africa Network – developing the Lacewing technology as a novel smart molecular diagnostics platform for malaria.

Lacewing connected to a smartphone (credits to Dr Nicolas Moser, Centre for BioInspired Technology)
There is universal agreement that tackling this burden malaria needs new innovative approaches and one approach that is key to that is better diagnostics

Dr Aubrey Cunnington,

Lead of The Digital Diagnostics

for Africa Network at Imperial College

Lacewing, born from a cross-faculty collaboration between Medicine, Engineering and Natural Sciences at Imperial College London, is lab-on-a-chip diagnostic platform bringing the sensitivity of molecular diagnostics usually found in a well-resourced laboratory to the pint-of-care, in a portable format with real time connectivity. It allows the point-of-care detection of parasite DNA from through blood sample, with a detection time of 15-30 minutes, testing on the five main species of Malaria, including the deadliest species. The devices use a smartphone interface to provide data analysis, reporting and decision support, allowing data to be shared in real-time for disease surveillance, so that disease control tools and responses to emerging disease threats can be mobilised immediately.

Lacewing has the potential to generate accurate diagnosis at point-of-care, where access to diagnostics services is often challenging, providing real-time surveillance data for effective public health control.

The Imperial’s Science Communication Unit, with the help of students from the MSc Science Communication MSc, have captured the role interdisciplinarity is playing in the Lacewing project in a clip, highlighting how innovation happens at the intersection of multiple fields, and disciplines.


By combining expertise and concepts, amazing innovative ideas can be generated and smart diagnostics like Lacewing draws attention to what interdisciplinary teams can achieve for the development of new approaches to diagnose and control malaria and other infections:

Innovation doesn't happen in silos, it happens at the boundaries between disciplines

Professor Pantelis Georgiou

Head of the Centre for BioInspired Technology at Imperial College London

To know more about the research on Lacewing, visit the page:

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