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International award given to UNMC and consortium

Image with caption: An international award for best collaboration dedicated to the developing or underserved populations worldwide was presented to Michael Wiley, Ph.D.

An international award for best collaboration dedicated to the developing or underserved populations worldwide was presented to Michael Wiley, Ph.D.

UNMC is part of an international consortium that won the Prix Galien MedStartUp Award in the category of Best Collaboration Dedicated to the Developing or Underserved Populations Worldwide.

The honor was announced Oct. 24 at the 2019 Galien MedStartUp Conference in New York.

The consortium developed an integrated solution for better preparedness and faster response to outbreaks and epidemics in high-risk areas, said Michael Wiley, Ph.D., assistant professor in the UNMC College of Public Health Department of Environmental, Agricultural, and Occupational Health.

UNMC worked with the Praesens Foundation, the Institut Pasteur, the Institut Pasteur de Dakar and Twist Bioscience Corporation to develop, quantify and scale up a range of innovative solutions on the continent of Africa to ensure better preparedness and response to infectious disease outbreaks. This includes assays to identify a wide-range of pathogens and a mobile biosafety lab that provides an innovative and open platform for the immediate detection and identification of pathogens in clinical samples of patients living in hard to reach regions with very limited to non-existent health care infrastructure.

Dr. Wiley designed the pan-pathogen assay and integrated it into the mobile lab concept.

"Using the commercially available pan viral panel, capable of detecting approximately 800 different viruses, provides an economical and practical approach for identifying potential epidemics and outbreaks worldwide," Dr. Wiley said.

"Due to the uniformity and sensitivity of the custom DNA capture panels, we have been able to efficiently trace the spread of disease and the pattern of mutation for several different viral outbreaks that includes Ebola, Lassa, Zika and Dengue."

The combination of technologies and competences into one integrated solution provides a decentralized approach to low-cost diagnostic tests and point-of-care that is efficient and flexible, he said.

Co-founded by the Galien Foundation and Business France, the Prix Galien MedStartUp encourages and rewards the most promising startups in health care formed through international partnerships. The program brings together innovators and stakeholders to facilitate rapid adoption and encourages the diffusion of new technologies to improve the state of human health.

Consortium partners

Twist Bioscience is a leading and rapidly growing synthetic biology company that has developed a disruptive DNA synthesis platform to industrialize the engineering of biology. The core of the platform is a proprietary technology that pioneers a new method of manufacturing synthetic DNA by "writing" DNA on a silicon chip.

Praesens Foundation, created by biotech entrepreneur Dr. Rudi Pauwels, aims to develop, provide and implement the use of integrated solutions to improve rapid response capabilities and surveillance in areas regularly affected by infectious diseases. It developed a truck-based, mobile biosafety laboratory (MBS-Lab) that includes an isolator for safe handling of biological and clinical samples and a range of innovative diagnostic tools.

The Institut Pasteur, a non-profit foundation with recognized charitable status set up by Louis Pasteur in 1887, is today an internationally renowned center for biomedical research with a network of 32 institutes worldwide. In the pursuit of its mission to prevent and control diseases in France and throughout the world, the Institut Pasteur operates in four main areas: research, public health, education and training, and development of research applications.

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