Diagnostics company Glyconics has won an £85,000 Phase 1 grant from the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) to explore the feasibility of a novel low-cost diagnostic platform for diabetic screening in developing countries.
Working in conjunction with Diabetes Africa and Université Catholique de Bukavu, the six- month project is being funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) through the UK Government’s GCRF – and will initially focus on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which has the fifth highest incidence of diabetes in Africa.
Now in its fifth year, the £1.5billion GCRF fund supports cutting-edge research projects that address the challenges faced by developing countries and have the potential to transform lives.
Diabetes is a major global challenge for which the vast majority (>90%) of cases have type-2 diabetes.
It is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attack, stroke and lower limb amputation, and the World Health Organization (WHO) projects it will be the 7th leading cause of death by 2030.
Early detection is key to long-term management of the condition and increased life expectancy.
According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), Africa has the highest instances of undiagnosed diabetes with as many as 60% of adults currently living with diabetes but unaware that they have it.
The IDF estimates that there are close to 19 million adults in Africa living with diabetes and a further 45 million with Impaired Glucose Tolerance (IGT). IGT sufferers are at higher risk of developing type-2 diabetes which is preventable or at least manageable through lifestyle if caught early.
The two-phase project – which started this month [October] – explores the viability of implementing low-cost diabetes screening programmes in developing countries using the pioneering handheld device.
Greg Tracz, CEO of Diabetes Africa, which will be contributing to the programme’s research with key stakeholders during the first phase of the project in DRC, says: “To be taken up, innovation needs information.
“It’s important to ensure that new devices and tools with the potential to reduce the cost of diabetes care are designed to fit local needs and help people on the ground address their daily challenges.”
During the second phase of the project – which is set to start in December – Université Catholique de Bukavu will be field-testing Glyconics’ prototype in DRC.
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