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Virtual biobanks and diagnostics development for neglected tropical diseases

From a recent publication by The Lancet Commission, 47% of the global population has little to no access to diagnostics, despite timely accurate diagnosis being crucial for the health of patients and for diseases control and surveillance.

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has clearly emphasised the scarcity of diagnostics capacity and capability worldwide, and a response to the lack of adequate infrastructures to sustain the development of diagnostics is coming from FIND, The Global Alliance for Diagnostics, and its DxConnect Virtual Biobank, which was presented at a recent event hosted by the International Society of Neglected Tropical Diseases (ISNTD), and masterly chaired by ISNTD Founder and Communication Director, Kamran Rafiq.

Dr Aubrey Cunnington (The Digital Diagnostics fro Africa Network), Kamran Rafiq (ISNTD), Dominic Allen and Professor Joseph Ndungu'u (FIND) at the ISNTD Connection event presenting FIND DxConnect Virtual Biobank.

The event featured the talks of FIND Kenya Executive Director, Professor Joseph Ndungu'u, FIND DXConnect Virtual Biobank Project Lead, Dominic Allen, and Dr Aubrey Cunnington, leading The Digital Diagnostics for Africa Network, nurturing an engaging discussion around the potential and challenges of free, open-access virtual sample collections, connecting sample requesters and sample contributors worldwide.

The DXConnect Virtual Biobank workflow model.

Finding and sourcing biological samples is crucial for accelerating research progress and to alleviate the bottleneck in test development, and this is particularly true of resources for the control and management of infectious diseases, where few interconnected networks and coordination tools exist. Challenges related to control of samples and data, maintenance, financial and regulatory aspects were discussed but the need of streamlining the development of diagnostics is essential, as Professor Joseph Ndungu'u clearly highlighted:

"Effective diagnostics are a prerequisite for reaching the WHO 2020 NTDs target [...] but of the 20 NTDs in the 2030 targets, only 2 have adequate and accessible diagnostics that will enable achieving the 2030 targets. [...] We can and we must do better."

You can watch the full event in the video below:

For more information about the DxConnect Virtual Biobank, please visit FIND website:

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