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Leapfrog diagnostics: Demonstration of a broad spectrum pathogen identification platform in a resource-limited setting

Leski, Tomasz A, Ansumana, Rashid, Malanoski, Anthony P, Jimmy, David H, Bangura, Umaru, Barrows, Brian R, Alpha, Morie, Koroma, Bashiru M, Long, Nina C, Sundufu, Abu J, Bockarie, Alfred S, Lin, Baochuan and Stenger, David A (2012) 'Leapfrog diagnostics: Demonstration of a broad spectrum pathogen identification platform in a resource-limited setting'. Health Research Policy and Systems, Vol 10, e22.

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Resource-limited tropical countries are home to numerous infectious pathogens of both human and zoonotic origin. A capability for early detection to allow rapid outbreak containment and prevent spread to non-endemic regions is severely impaired by inadequate diagnostic laboratory capacity, the absence of a “cold chain” and the lack of highly trained personnel. Building up detection capacity in these countries by direct replication of the systems existing in developed countries is not a feasible approach and instead requires “leapfrogging” to the deployment of the newest diagnostic systems that do not have the infrastructure requirements of systems used in developed countries.


A laboratory for molecular diagnostics of infectious agents was established in Bo, Sierra Leone with a hybrid solar/diesel/battery system to ensure stable power supply and a satellite modem to enable efficient communication. An array of room temperature stabilization and refrigeration technologies for reliable transport and storage of reagents and biological samples were also tested to ensure sustainable laboratory supplies for diagnostic assays.


The laboratory demonstrated its operational proficiency by conducting an investigation of a suspected avian influenza outbreak at a commercial poultry farm at Bo using broad range resequencing microarrays and real time RT-PCR. The results of the investigation excluded influenza viruses as a possible cause of the outbreak and indicated a link between the outbreak and the presence of Klebsiella pneumoniae.


This study demonstrated that by application of a carefully selected set of technologies and sufficient personnel training, it is feasible to deploy and effectively use a broad-range infectious pathogen detection technology in a severely resource-limited setting.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:
Subjects: QY Clinical Pathology > QY 25 Laboratory techniques and procedure
QZ Pathology > Pathogenesis. Etiology > QZ 40 Pathogenesis. Etiology
WA Public Health > WA 30 Socioeconomic factors in public health (General)
WA Public Health > Health Problems of Special Population Groups > WA 395 Health in developing countries
WX Hospitals and Other Health Facilities > Clinical Departments and Units > WX 207 Clinical and pathological laboratories
Faculty: Department: Groups (2002 - 2012) > International Health Group
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Lynn Roberts-Maloney
Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2015 12:11
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2018 13:08


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