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Innovation in Action: Invention Tackles Treatable Disease in Rural Africa

Read the blog post that inspired this case study on the Innovate4Health or the Center for the Protection of Intellectual Property websites.

Intellectual property (IP) protections and enforcement facilitate an environment conducive to innovation – the results of which are seen, and felt, every day with new inventions. In this case study, we explore the impact of IP on the health and wellbeing of communities in rural Africa.

Who: Johns Hopkins University and Fyodor Biotechnologies


Ninety percent of all malaria-related deaths in 2015 occurred in Africa, due in large part to lack of access to health services and personnel – common challenges in remote communities with high rates of poverty and and a general lack of healthcare infrastructure. However, if identified early, malaria is treatable.


Facilitating quicker diagnosis in resource-limited communities can help address the high malaria-related mortality rates seen in many countries in Africa. A patented test designed by Johns Hopkins University professor Dr. David Sullivan, which is currently being tested, developed and ultimately commercialized by Fyodor Biotechnologies, sought to fill the void.


The invention’s progress shows strong promise:

  • Dr. Sullivan’s Urine Malaria Test (UMT) provides a rapid, accurate, convenient and cost-effective test compared with the current standard, and it does not need to be administered by specially trained personnel. In fact, the test can be used by the patient in his or her own home, eliminating what may be a full-day round trip to a health care facility.
  • Fyodor Biotechnologies, founded by Nigerian biotechnologist Eddy Agbo to address malaria-related deaths in Africa, was granted rights to the UMT in 2009. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University have conducted preclinical studies, and the UMT is currently in clinical validation. Pending trial results, Fyodor intends to seek concurrent regulatory approvals from authorities in both Nigeria and the United States.

The UMT is just one example of how patented innovation can conquer global challenges – in this case, better meeting the needs of an underserved, rural population. With the strong foundation of intellectual property rights and protections, innovation is possible – and makes a real impact to improve lives around the world.

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