Aga Khan University gets Sh20m grant to help fight cervical cancer

Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin, Vice Chancellor of The Aga Khan University.

Photo credit: File | Billy Ogada | Nation Media Group

The Aga Khan University (AKU) has received a Sh19.7 million ($150,000) research grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to conduct clinical trials of a low-cost, handheld 3D medical imaging device in Kenya.

The grant is part of a two-year, Sh262.7 million ($2 million) funding programme from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and will be used to complete research and development and conduct clinical trials of the device at AKU in Kenya, Malawi, and in the United States.

A handheld 3D medical imaging device is a portable device capable of producing real-time, high-resolution 3D images of the cervix, to aid in the early detection and analysis of cervical cancer. The technology is being developed in partnership with Pensievision Inc, an imaging technology startup.

Elkanah Omenge, chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at AKU Medical College, East Africa, and co-principal investigator on this grant said it will enable the university to make significant strides in addressing the burden of cervical cancer in the country.

“We aim to play a role in the early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cervical cancer patients, which will help to combat the disease,” said Dr Omenge.

The project will begin in September and will be implemented at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, the hospital's outreach clinics, and at the community level.

"We've spent years in research and development, so we are very excited to be starting clinical trials with patients in three countries. Being able to work with the health leaders at AKU has been an incredible opportunity to test new life-saving technologies in the prevention of cervical cancer," said Joe Carson, co-principal investigator on this grant and chief technology officer of Pensievision.

The initiative offers hope in the fight against cervical cancer, which is the second most common cancer among Kenyan women and the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in this population.

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