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FIND, Scanwell Health Partner to Develop Smartphone App to Read Malaria Test Results

NEW YORK – The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics and Scanwell Health announced a partnership on Thursday to develop a smartphone app to interpret rapid malaria diagnostic tests.

The technology from Scanwell Health uses machine learning and computer vision algorithms to read rapid in vitro diagnostic tests, and the company said the app will be compatible with many types of mobile devices and tests, allowing for its use in low-resource countries.

The app will also support data collection on the ground and feed into digital surveillance systems to help combat antimicrobial resistance, the company said. It aims to reduce user error and help healthcare providers determine the specific strain of malaria so the treatment can be appropriately tailored.

The tech, which reads lateral flow assays, is also the basis for Scanwell's at-home SARS-CoV-2 antibody test, which is under development and awaiting Emergency Use Authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration. The test was licensed from Chinese biotechnology firm Innovita and detects IgM and IgG antibodies.

Los Angeles-based Scanwell's partnership with FIND was reached at the end of last year and FIND will be testing the app's first iteration at healthcare facilities in three different undisclosed low- and middle-income countries. Evaluation of the app is expected to finish by the end of 2020 and will likely expand into two or three additional countries, with implementation focused on connecting the app with existing digital tools in the community healthcare setting.

“Using technology to optimize the use of RDTs for better patient care, while also enabling the collection of critical data to inform policy decisions on AMR strategies – and potentially also pandemic response – is a double win," said FIND CEO Catharina Boehme.