Africa Suitcaselab is a project funded by the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP) and an African-European partnership for development and deployment of rapid SARS-CoV-2 RNA and antigen detection assays by the Botnar Research Centre for Child Health (BRCCH). Both contain a multi-country blinded phase 2 study to evaluate rapid detection systems of SARS-COV-2.

Left: suitcase lab, for mastermix preparation and assay performance; right: secure glove box for safe sample inactivation and handling
Suitcase lab presented to the president of Ghana

THE PROJECT

Our main aim is to evaluate 3 different point of need systems (isothermal amplification, peakPCR and rapid antigen test) ) for SARS-COV-2 through a multi-country blinded study and its implementation in low resource settings. Learn more about our projects

The consortium consists of 3 European Partners (coordination and assay development) as well as 7 North and Sub-Saharan partners (diagnostic evaluation). Learn more about who we are

Objectives

  1. Diagnostic accuracy determination of point of need assays 
    Determining the diagnostic accuracy of point of need assays (isothermal amplification, peakPCR and rapid antigen test).
  2. International collaboration
    Building cross border collaboration involving 9 countries from Europe, North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

  3. Capacity building 
    Building capacity for safe handling of BSL-3 pathogens using the glove box.

  4. Suitcase lab implementation
    Implementation of the suitcase lab for rapid detection of SARS-COV-2.

Expected impact
Once validated, the suitcase lab can be deployed at point of entry, walk-through test centers as well as remote areas for outbreak investigations. The suitcase lab will pave the way for rapid identification of infected cases and enhance prompt management as well as immediate implementation of control measures against the spread of SARS-COV-2.

2. International collaboration

Building cross border collaboration involving 9 countries from Europe, North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

3. Capacity building

Building capacity for safe handling of BSL-3 pathogens using the glove box.

4. Suitcase lab implementation

Implementation of the suitcase lab for rapid detection of SARS-COV-2.

Expected impact

Once validated, the suitcase lab can be deployed at point of entry, walk-through test centers as well as remote areas for outbreak investigations. The suitcase lab will pave the way for rapid identification of infected cases and enhance prompt management as well as immediate implementation of control measures against the spread of SARS-COV-2.

Background

COVID-19 has emerged as a new viral disease in late 2019 and has rapidly spread and developed into a global pandemic with severe health and economic impact. Although real-time RT-PCR is currently used as the standard method for SARS-COV-2 molecular diagnosis, it requires a well-established laboratory, specifically trained personnel, is time-consuming (2-5 hours) and thus involves high costs altogether. Therefore, the need of other rapid and simple diagnostic approaches maintaining the high performance of RT-PCR is of utmost urgency.

Point-of-need

peakPCR

In the past 3 years, Prof. Stark´s at the Swiss Federal Institute of…

Antigen Test

Dr. Vörös group at ETH is developing an electrochemically enhanced…

The group from Germany, France, and seven African countries are…

Suitcase lab advantages

  • The size of the suitcase is 62+49+30 cm, which is easy to carry, transport and ship. A glove box will be used to inactivate the samples to avoid contamination of the environment and keep the health care worker safe.
  • Power source from solar panel with power pack. 
  • Easy to be implemented in low resource settings
  • Cold chain independence as reagents can be kept at 38-40°C ambient temperature for months without any effect on the assay performance. 
  • A tight waste container allowing autoclaving or incinerating waste to avoid contamination of the environment.
  • Rapid time to result around 20 minutes including the extraction procedure.
Suitcaselab demonstration
Suitcase lab

Suitcase lab

Glove box for sample inactivation
Glove box for sample inactivation

Glove box for sample inactivation

The team

This project is funded by the EDCTP and the BRCCH. This project is a collaboration between partners in Ghana, Senegal, Madagascar, Nigeria, DR Congo, Sudan and Uganda, where the field activities will take place, and partners in Germany, France and Switzerland involved with development and refinement of the SARS-COV-2 rapid diagnostic tests.

 Uganda

  • Dr. Julius Boniface Okuni, College of Veterinary Medicine, Animal Resources and Biosecurity
    Makerere University

 Germany

 France

Ghana 

  • Dr. Michael Frimpong, Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine
    KCCR

 Senegal

 Madagascar

 Nigeria

 DR Congo

  • Dr. Sheila Makiala, Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale du Zaire
    INRB

 Sudan

Switzerland

Germany

 Germany

France

 France

Ghana

Ghana 

  • Dr. Michael Frimpong, Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research in Tropical Medicine
    KCCR

Senegal

 Senegal

Madagascar

 Madagascar

Nigeria

 Nigeria

DR Congo

 DR Congo

  • Dr. Sheila Makiala, Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale du Zaire
    INRB

Sudan

 Sudan

Switzerland

Switzerland

Consortium members

Screenshot of one of the Africa Suitcaselab consortium online meetings showing the involved partners
 

Consortium Partners

University of Ibadan

Visit UI

Institut Pasteur de Madagascar

Visit IP Madagascar

Institut Pasteur de Dakar

Visit IP Dakar

Kumasi Centre for Collaborative Research Tropical Medicine

Visit KCCR

Functional Genetics of Infectious Diseases Institut Pasteur

Visit IP

Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale du Zaire (INRB)

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University of Khartoum

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Vet.med., Animal Resources, Biosecurity, Makerere University

Visit COVAB Makerere

ETH Zürich

Visit ETH

Consortium partners

midge medical GmbH

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TIB MOLBIOL Syntheselabor GmbH

Visit TIB MOLBIOL