Collect2Know: ITM develops innovative blood self-sampling device
© header: Voxdale
The patented C2K device is a revolutionary blood sampling device that offers a standardised and safe approach to obtain blood samples, which may facilitate at-home testing and simplify the process of blood sample collection. Traditional finger prick methods can be impractical and unhygienic, and they may cause discomfort. The C2K device overcomes these inconveniences by integrating skin puncturing and blood collection into a single, streamlined device.
Dr Irith De Baetselier, coordinator of the National Reference Centre of Sexually Transmitted Infections in Belgium and principal investigator of the Collect2Know project, highlights the value of the tool:
“Decentralised and remote self-sampling or testing is becoming increasingly important, particularly in the field of HIV/STI testing. Some individuals still face stigma or anxiety when undergoing physical HIV/STI testing by their general practitioner.”
Irith De Baetselier
The C2K device will simplify the process of blood collection and may ensure that sufficient volumes of blood can be obtained to test for multiple STIs, which is a significant challenge for existing online or remote HIV/STI testing programmes. “Additionally, it has the potential to eliminate the necessity for individuals to revisit the clinic for additional venous blood collection, especially for confirmatory testing for infections like HIV and syphilis,” dr De Baetselier adds. “This will lead to additional time-saving and resources.”
Game changer for blood collection and remote testing
Besides remote HIV/STI testing, C2K has tremendous potential on a global scale, particularly in resource-limited settings where traditional blood collection may face additional logistical and cultural challenges. In such contexts, C2K can offer a practical solution to overcome these barriers. For example, people living with chronic diseases such as HIV or cancer may collect blood in their private environment, ensuring retention in care while avoiding time off from work, additional travel to the clinic, crowded clinics and waiting rooms. In addition, the device replaces multiple pieces of equipment used by healthcare professionals such as needles, syringes and vacuum tubes.
Ultimately, the C2K device has the potential to make blood collection widely accessible, reduce the burden on the already overstretched healthcare systems, and empower individuals worldwide to manage their health autonomously, regardless of their circumstances.
In testing phase
The device is now being tested among Belgian participants. The results of a previous pilot study in Belgium indicate high user-friendliness, minimal discomfort, and a strong willingness to use the device in the future. However, extensive testing is still required to ascertain C2K's usability across various settings and environments. As such, an acceptability and usability study of the device among people living with HIV in Zambia will be performed together with the sexual health group of the Department of Public Health.
Collect2Know (C2K) is the result of a collaborative effort between the Institute of Tropical Medicine (Clinical Reference Laboratory, HIV/STI Clinic and the Department of Clinical Sciences management), and Voxdale, a Belgian product design agency.
The project received financial support from the Flemish Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (VLAIO).
C2K at the AU-EU Innovation Festival 2023
The C2K device was selected to be showcased at the AU-EU Innovation Festival, which took place on 15 June 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa. The event, organised by the European Union, the African Union, and the Republic of South Africa, brought together innovators, investors, companies and representatives from the public sector, NGOs and civil society organisations, from across Africa and Europe.
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