Tuberculosis is a treatable disease that requires strict compliance with an antibiotic regiment, resulting in patients not letting the drug finish its job once they feel better. To increase compliance, a research group at MIT has developed a urine test that can reveal a hidden code on a piece of paper if a metabolite of the antibiotic is present. This code is then used to receive free mobile phone minutes or other goodies in programs meant to increase compliance.
From MIT Technology Review:
The researchers recently finished a feasibility test in Nicaragua, where they worked with local scientists to improve the accuracy of the test strips, testing them on urine samples collected from TB patients. They also tested the robustness of the devices, making sure that they could be stored reliably and that they worked as well in humid Nicaragua as they did in New England.
The team is launching a larger trial this month in Karachi, Pakistan, in collaboration with the city’s Center for Community Development. The researchers plan to start with 30 patients but aim to eventually test the program on 1,000 people, comparing both compliance and infection rates in those who use the devices and those who have more traditional monitoring.