Module Innovations: Pune, Maharashtra, India

See this team's Longitude Prize entry page

This team successfully won a Discovery Award seed-funding grant to help further develop their ideas for their Longitude Prize application and create a diagnostic test  that helps solve the problem of global antibiotic resistance. Below we have asked them to explain their test and motivation for applying.

What is your team working on?

Globally, 150 million people suffer from Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs).  This occurs when bacteria start invading your urinary tract. For doctors to treat UTIs, they must use effective antibiotics, however before they are administered, they must know what type of bacteria is causing the infection. Our test, USense, is a small credit card sized strip made of nanofibers that detects four different kinds of bacteria (E.coli, Staphylococcus aureus, Klebsiella and Enterococci - which are the cause of 96% of infections). This single test simply changes colour from blue to red in a well corresponding to any of these four bacteria. Within 60 minutes it can detect which bacteria is causing the UTI.

Please share a more detailed description of this work from a medical professional's perspective.

The idea we are developing is an affordable and innovative diagnostic platform, based on colour changing polymers, for rapid microbial detection. USense allows for the visual detection of the presence of 4 specific uropathogens, including E.coli in just 30-60 minutes, a significant reduction from the time required for standard culture testing (2-3 days). Moreover, USense can be deployed without needing a laboratory, trained personnel, electricity and has easy to interpret results.

What difference will your work make in the long term with regards to antimicrobial diagnostics? 

India has had a long history of misuse of antibiotics, which has started to show its detrimental effects. UTIs which could earlier be treated by oral antibiotics now require injections. Lack of point of care and rapid detection methods that determine bacteria causing UTIs has been at the forefront of antimicrobial resistance. USense will empower doctors to quickly identify bacteria and prescribe the correct medication. The simplicity of USense (instrument and electricity free) makes it suitable for deployment in rural settings where antibiotic use is equally rampant. The low price will support sustainability and drive usage by doctors, nurses and auxiliary nurse midwifery in India and other countries alike. This will provide the ability to use USense in clinical settings before any antibiotic is prescribed with quick results. In the long term, USense will lead to a mindset shift and hence contribute remarkably in reducing and controlling the rise of antimicrobial resistance.

Why did you apply and what will the Discovery Award funding be used for in your work? 

We can detect 4 uropathogens that account for 96% cases of UTIs in India in 30-60 minutes time by simple blue to red colour change. We want to build prototypes and test the performance of our technology on clinical and real patient samples. We also plan to design and test quantifying the bacterial load via a cellphone camera-based app.

If there is a design for a prototype, please describe it and how it will work.

The initial prototype is the size of a credit card with 4 wells in each corner. There is a well in the center connected to each of these 4 wells. The urine sample is dropped into the central well which then flows to each of these wells showing a blue to red colour change if the urine has that specific organism corresponding to the well.

Each well corresponds to:

  1. E.coli
  2. Staphylococcus Aureus
  3. Klebsiella  
  4. Enterococci 

Who is on your team? 

Mr. Sachin Dubey | CEO & Cofounder 
Mr. Usman Khan |COO & Cofounder
Dr Priyadip Das| CSO
Dr Sandanaraja Britto |Scientific Advisor
Mr. Prajyot Gandhi| Head, Marketing and Strategy
Ms Maya KV| Research Scientist.

If you are interested in collaborating with this team, longitude [dot] prize [at] nesta [dot] org [dot] uk (please email us).