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  • Alastair Smith

MRC to Fund Diagnostic Test Development

Sep 10 2017 Comments 0

Leeds University and the Avacta Group have been awarded a £3.8 million grant by the Medical Research Council (UK) to develop next generation biosensors to differentiate between bacterial and viral infections and also to determine which bacterial strain has caused the infection so that the correct antibiotic can be quickly administered. This will allow for more targeted use of antibiotics, reducing the number of wrongly prescribed treatments and increasing efficacy for patients, which will contribute to a reduction in anti-microbial resistance (AMR).

As an engineered alternative to antibodies, Affimer reagents can target bacterial or viral proteins with a high degree of specificity and used to create accurate diagnostic tests and laboratory assays, or used to develop new therapeutic candidates, said the company.The development of the biosensors will take place at Leeds University in the Groups of Professors Christoph Walti (Electronic Engineering) and Mike McPherson (Biochemistry). As part of the collaborative agreement between Avacta and the University of Leeds, Avacta will have the first rights to commercialise the new Affimer reagents and new diagnostic tests developed under the programme.

Alastair Smith, Avacta Group Chief Executive commented: “There is a growing, global need for diagnostic tests that differentiate bacterial strains. Anti-microbial resistance is a huge issue for healthcare providers and one that is only going to get worse if the prescription of antibiotics is not targeted by accurate and rapid diagnostics. This programme fits perfectly with our near term commercial strategy to focus on developing Affimer reagents for rapid diagnostics. It will deliver valuable Affimer reagents that are specific to key bacterial strains, which can be developed into a range of third party diagnostic platforms. In the longer term the programme will also deliver novel, microfluidic, rapid test devices, which may surpass existing technologies.

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