Our goal is to make DNA-based diagnostics in East Africa sustainable by creating a social enterprise called SEREN. In 2020, SEREN received the University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor Award for Innovation.
SEREN is a new, commercially sustainable social enterprise which focuses on curing the curable through precise DNA-based diagnosis that will prevent the needless deaths of thousands of children in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Each year, 420,000 childhood deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa from diseases for which affordable therapies are available. Currently these curable diseases remain uncured as current diagnostics are too expensive to provide at scale, where they are needed. SEREN will bring low cost, easy to use and accurate molecular diagnostic tools to point of care settings.
SEREN’s initial focus will be to demonstrate the efficacy of using low-cost, low maintenance, patient-near DNA-based technology as a solution for the diagnosis of cancers and blood diseases in Tanzania. The initial focus will be on haemoglobinopathy testing and childhood cancers. The next step will be to expand to other disease areas for which highly effective, well-tolerated therapies are likely to become affordable within the next three to five years. In addition, the diagnostic laboratory will consider offering point-of-care testing for Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever and Malaria for which there is high demand among self-payers including tourists and business travellers.
SEREN will be based and operate from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania in partnership with the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) and the University of Oxford. SEREN’s core business will be a diagnostic laboratory, which will leverage diagnostic innovations from the University of Oxford (Oxford Molecular Diagnostic Centre - OMDC) and already existing technology from biotech companies commercial suppliers (such as Oxford Nanopore and Illumina) to bring the advantages of precision diagnostics to Tanzania and the population of sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).