TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

A*STAR and Veredus Laboratories develop lab-on-chip to detect tropical diseases

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research and Veredus Laboratories recently announced the launch of VereTrop, a biochip that can identify 13 different major tropical diseases from one blood sample.

A*STAR is Singapore's lead public sector agency and Veredus Laboratories is a Singapore-based majority-owned subsidiary of global semiconductor company STMicroelectronics. The two companies worked together to develop the lab-on-chip diagnostic kit meant to transform the efficiency and quality disease tests for tropical infectious diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever.

"Tropical diseases often reflect common symptoms like fever, and may not be accurately diagnosed early by doctors," Lisa Ng, the lead virologist on the project, said. "This portable test kit is a rapid and reliable method to accurately test for multiple pathogenic targets from just one blood sample in a matter of hours."

A*STAR's Singapore Immunology Network successfully tested VereTrop on patient samples in the external fields of Northern Thailand.

"This technology opens new possibilities for the accurate and rapid diagnostic of important infectious diseases that remain the main causes of illness in the tropics," Fran├žois Nosten, A*STAR's clinical collaborator at the Oxford Clinical Unit in Mae Sot, said. "Its versatility and ease of use will change the approach to diagnostics at the periphery of health care system."

The biochip operates on STMicroelectronics' Lab-on-Chip platform and was developed with A*STAR's infectious disease expertise. Veredus previously licensed diagnostic technology in the areas of malaria and influenza.

"Veredus and A*STAR have worked on several collaborative projects dating back to 2004," Rosemary Tan, the CEO of Veredus Laboratories, said. "This latest project on (the) VereTrop Lab-on-Chip has combined the strengths and expertise of A*STAR, Veredus, and STMicroelectronics to create a powerful multiplexed molecular product that can rapidly detect and differentiate symptomatically similar tropical infectious diseases and enable timely proper treatment."

Other diseases identified by the VereTrop diagnostic kit include typhoid fever, melioidosis, Rift Valley Fever, Yellow Fever, West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis.

"After this journey of more than three years, we are glad that such a compelling technologically-advanced product with global healthcare benefits is ready to be launched to the market," Philip Lim, the CEO of A*STAR's technology transfer arm, said. "Veredus is a good example of how local companies can work with A*STAR for a consistent stream of technology to develop products that can enhance their offerings and level them up to be competitive and relevant globally."