Diagnostik für die globale Gesundheit

CORVALLIS, OREGON – In Industrieländern betrachten es die meisten Menschen als selbstverständlich, im Krankheitsfall umgehend Zugang zu Diagnose und Behandlung zu haben.  Der diagnostische Prozess – im Zuge dessen man üblicherweise Blut-, Urin- oder Gewebeproben zur Untersuchung an ein Labor sendet – kann zuweilen zwar umständlich und kostspielig sein, aber Gesundheitsdienstleister und hochmoderne Labors sind weithin verfügbar. Aus diesem Grund ist die Krankheitslast in den entwickelten Ländern auch beträchtlich gesunken.

Im Gegensatz dazu sterben in den Entwicklungsländern aufgrund fehlender modern ausgestatteter Labors und alternativer diagnostischer Tests jedes Jahr Millionen Menschen an behandelbaren Krankheiten wie Malaria. Doch es besteht Anlass zur Hoffnung: Fortschritte im Bereich der Mikrofluidik verfügen über das Potenzial, die Gesundheitsversorgung umzukrempeln, weil sie ermöglichen, laborbasierte „Goldstandard“-Tests an einen so genannten Point of Care (POC), also an einen Ort patientennaher Labordiagnostik, zu übertragen.

Ein POC-Test, der präzise und prompte Resultate liefert, würde medizinisch unterversorgten Bevölkerungsgruppen Zugang zu diagnostischen Verfahren bieten und ihnen eine frühere Behandlung ermöglichen sowie dabei helfen, Fehlbehandlungen (also die Behandlung einer anderen Krankheit mit ähnlichen Symptomen) zu vermeiden.  Um ihr Potenzial auszuschöpfen, müssen diese POC-Tests allerdings einer breiten Palette von Faktoren gerecht werden, die bei Anwendungen im Bereich der Gesundheitsversorgung zu berücksichtigen sind.

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