Team:Munich/Gold Integrated/Dittrich

Interview with Dr. Sabine Dittrich

What criteria should we consider when choosing our target?

Dr. Dittrich: Probably the most important thing would be to go for a pathogen present in an easy-to-get and easy-to-work-with sample, such as blood. Being a specialist in tropical diseases and fever management, I would suggest malaria. If a patient has cough and fever for instance, it can be caused by either malaria or a viral infection, so having a quick test helping you rule one out would be nice. The downside of choosing exotic diseases is that they would limit the use of the device to certain geographical regions. On the other hand, if you go for some common disease as diarrhea, you will have to use stool as a sample, which is certainly not the easiest solution.

Other important criteria you should take into consideration is how big is the role a certain pathogen has when it comes to overprescription of antibiotics. A great example are respiratory pathogens that cause typical cold symptoms such as cough and sore throat (ex. Streptococcus pneumoniae). As a current approach to differentiate such pathogens, some multiplex-PCR tests are currently available. Here you would probably have to use sputum as a sample, which is again challenging.

Do you have some other tips for us?

Dr. Dittrich: Keep it as simple as possible. Avoid using a lot of plastic, keeping this way your device cheap and enviromentally friendly. It is also important to consider the durability of the device. It would be nice that the device does not need to be stored in the fridge all the time for example.