BiliSpec: Low-Cost, Point-of-Care Bilirubin Measurement Device to Diagnose Neonatal Jaundice and Monitor Phototherapy

William Marsh Rice University
Organization Location: 
Houston, Texas

During the first days of life, neonates are at increased risk of developing jaundice – when excess bilirubin builds up in the body. Lack of treatment can lead to severe neurological impairment and death.   Fortunately, jaundice is easily treated with blue light phototherapy. In high resource settings morbidity and mortality from jaundice is exceedingly rare due to readily available bilirubin monitoring for guidance of effective phototherapy treatment. Several commercial phototherapy systems have been developed and marketed specifically for low-resource settings. However, accurate low-cost bilirubin monitoring is still widely unavailable in low-resource settings and systems used in high-resource settings are too expensive. Our idea is to develop BiliSpec, a bilirubin monitoring device with a per-test cost of less than $0.10. BiliSpec includes: (1) a lateral-flow device to separate serum from whole blood in under 30 seconds and (2) a battery powered reader to measure light transmission through the separated serum on the strip and display the bilirubin concentration. We estimate our device could prevent the deaths of approximately ninety-thousand neonates who die every year due to lack of access to effective treatment and monitoring for neonatal jaundice in low-resource settings.

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