Hermann von Helmholtz Professor of Health Sciences and Technology, MIT Institute for Medical Engineering & Science (IMES)
2020 SENSE.nano Symposium
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
Session 3: Body systems
1:45PM – 2:00PM EST
A large number of animal species are hosts to viruses in geographic areas that have historically been separated from humans. With climate change, deforestation, and increased urbanization, what was once rare human contact with these pathogens is increasing, leading to spillover events that cause emerging virus infections. Rapid diagnostic tests are needed for population surveillance to identify circulating pathogens, as well as to serve health care workers in detecting and distinguishing pathogens for optimal patient care. The goal of our work is to develop low cost tests that are simple to use, do not require power, and do not require special chemicals. In COVID19 disease, the absence of a vaccine means that active vigilance, accomplished by regular testing (every 2-3 days) is required to prevent superspreader transmission. This regular testing requires an inexpensive test that can be used as a point-of-care diagnostic. We are actively pursuing technologies to reduce the cost of developing rapid antigen tests, permitting advance diagnostics development that precedes outbreaks and epidemics.
Lee Gehrke is the Hermann L.F. von Helmholtz Professor of Health Sciences at MIT and Professor of Microbiology at Harvard Medical School. His laboratory studies host-pathogen interactions in virus infections, in addition to developing rapid antigen diagnostics for human viral infections, including dengue virus, Zika virus, Chikungunya virus, and SARS-CoV-2. The goal of the rapid test development is to design rapid, inexpensive, easy to use tests that can be scaled for use anywhere in the world without need for power, special chemicals, or special training.