A Filipino scientist and his team won second place in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Technology Accelerator Challenge for developing a smartphone-based saliva test that can detect COVID-19 and other diseases such as malaria and anemia.

Dr. Rhoel Dinglasan, a professor at the University of Florida, and his team partnered with California-based start-up Luminostics to develop their invention “CLIP-CAM,” described as “an adapter attached to a smartphone that allows for a detection cassette to be inserted into a slot. The camera flash is used to excite the detection system in the cassette, which can then be read by a smartphone app.”

Dinglasan said that anyone themselves could use the CLIP-CAM test, so it does not require laboratory or healthcare workers at any point in the process. The invention can produce results by 15 minutes or less.

Dinglasan’s team took home $200,000 for their winning entry in the contest through this invention.

The competition is backed by the American private foundation Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Winners and honorable mentions will be provided follow-up support from Gates Foundation to “develop the proposed technologies for global health applications.” This includes up to $500,000 grants, in-kind support either through consultations and partnerships for clinical data collection, software development, scale-up, and manufacturing.

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