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Session

Lab to Life: Social Impact-Driven Biotechnology

Health & Medtech

Lab to Life: Social Impact-Driven Biotechnology

About

Every 11 seconds, a pregnant woman and newborn die from mostly preventable causes. That's an estimated 2.8 million preventable deaths every year. 94% of these deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Nepal have the highest maternal mortality rates in the Asia-pacific region.

Timely pregnancy testing can identify high-risk pregnancies. But most women in low-income countries can't afford common diagnostic tests. A test can cost more than a day’s income. Many pregnancy tests are also sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity and cannot be stored for a long time under basic conditions.

UNICEF identified the potential of biotechnology to help solve this challenge and partnered with the Rhodes University Biotechnology Innovation Centre (RUBIC) in South Africa in 2015. This collaboration has supported research that is developing a Smart Pregnancy Test that will be accessible to more women because it is highly accurate, low-cost, resistant to temperature and humidity, and not affected by storage conditions in remote areas.

During this session, Prof Janice Limson (RUBIC) and Tanya Accone (UNICEF) will share insights on how the smart pregnancy test works (why it is smart) and their innovation journey from exploration, experimentation to commercialization. Dr Nicole Vincent (UTS) will explore the ethics of emerging technologies.

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