Core research: Building the toolkit

Our core, interdisciplinary research programme brings together expertise across the i-sense consortium in diverse areas, including biomarker discovery, biomimetic coatings, nanosensor systems, data capture, data analysis and early-stage clinical and economic evaluation of our technologies. 

We are applying these techniques to four Flagship projects, which cover end-user needs, influenza, bacterial Infections and HIV.  

Our competencies are illustrated in the figure below:

Biomarker Discovery & Capture Ligands: We are harnessing the power of genomic sequencing to search for new biomarkers (pathogen and host) and creating advanced scalable capture ligands, to detect biomarkers with high sensitivity and specificity.

Advanced Nanoparticles: We are developing micro/nanopatterning methods to create arrays to detect pathogen-fingerprints and multiplexed disease diagnosis. Our research into advanced nanomaterials, including nanoparticles and quantum dots aims to increase the performance characteristics of mobile phone diagnostics. 

Nanosensors: Through the consortium we are engineering a range of innovative sensor technologies, from early stage, high-risk systems, through to more advanced prototypes in co-development with industry partners. 

Big Data Analytics: We are creating low-cost, digital sensing systems to analyse self-reported symptoms on the web, including social networks and micro-blogging sites (Twitter) and search engines (Bing, Google). We are also designing and establishing a “fit for purpose” disease surveillance infrastructure to support the collection, analysis and display of our digital data.

Apps and Dashboards: We are developing apps linked to a smartphone camera to automatically analyse, interpret and connect flu and HIV test results to healthcare systems. Mobile phone connectivity helps ensure patients stay linked into care and treatment and in-built location sensors allow for earlier detection of disease hotspots and more rapid public health interventions.  We are also developing dashboards to track the progress of HIV diagnostic and treatment programmes in South Africa.

End-user needs and testbeds: Evaluation of our technologies is made possible through partnerships with key clinical and public health leaders, including Public Health England, UCL Partners, the International Diagnostics Centre and the Africa Centre. Through these collaborations, we have access to clinical samples, patient and public groups and a wealth of expertise in assessing diagnostic technologies at national and international level. We are also working to develop regulatory and ethical frameworks to guide the development of responsible technologies that manage public concerns around data privacy and data security.

Web data: We are using anonymised data on the web to identify early indicators of outbreaks of disease.

Mobile health: Our mobile phone-connected diagnostics will detect infections and wirelessly feed test results into surveillance systems.