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Diascopic Awarded $225K NIH Grant to Develop TB Detection Platform

NEW YORK — Diascopic said on Wednesday that it has been awarded a $225,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health to validate its portable, automated digital pathology platform for the detection of tuberculosis (TB).

Called Ion, the system combines low magnification, high-resolution imaging with a proprietary image analysis algorithm for Mycobacterium tuberculosis detection. Following positive preliminary studies in Africa, Diascopic said it will use the Phase I Small Business Innovation Research grant to test Ion's ability to test for TB in 400 digitized sputum smears collected in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University-Uganda.

Diascopic said in a statement that CEO Cary Serif and VP of Research and Engineering Jim Uhlir have a particular focus on "rapid, mobile, low-cost, and accurate digital pathology solutions for pressing health problems."

The Cleveland-based company added in the grant's abstract that it aims to achieve greater than 99 percent accuracy compared with manual microscopy, as well as a sensitivity of 80 percent and a specificity of 99 percent versus culture. If successful, Diascopic said that it intends to develop detection algorithms for three to four additional pathogens, with the goal of marketing the Ion system in resource-limited countries affected by developing-world diseases.

"The intention is to raise the bar, compared to other diagnostic tests, to reduce the cost and technical skill needed to administer the test, while also increasing the speed of diagnosis," Uhlir said.