Fast and affordable malaria diagnostics

Jonas Pollard, a chemist at the Adolphe Merkle Institute at the University of Fribourg, received support from BRIDGE Proof of Concept. He considers the support crucial for his project – developing a rapid diagnostic test for malaria.

“Without BRIDGE support, I wouldn’t have been able to develop this technology.” In the course of his PhD studies Pollard discovered that a biomarker present throughout the life cycle of malaria serves as a catalyst in certain polymerisation reactions, which amplify it and make it visible to the naked eye. That got him thinking about a new diagnostic tool for malaria.

The potential of the discovery is enormous, given that the disease affects more than 200 million people around the world each year and that current diagnostic methods are inaccurate or expensive. Pollard has already produced an initial prototype of a diagnostic tool together with a team of engineers. He also went to Brazil not only to test the prototype but also to get a better grasp of the realities on the ground and to establish contacts with specialist clinics. The next step consists of finding investors interested in funding the technology.

Martin Müller is confident: “Based on the quality of the selected projects, several start-ups are bound to emerge thanks to Bridge support.” Nevertheless, he stresses that risk is an inevitable part of the transition from research to innovation: some projects may come to nought. “But in the end, the researchers won’t have failed because they will have gained so many skills in the process. If it doesn’t work out this time, they will succeed elsewhere! That’s another purpose BRIDGE serves: fostering an entrepreneurial culture among researchers.”



Last modification 30.05.2018

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Jonas Pollard
Adolphe Merkle Institute

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