Rapid Diagnostic Method Receives Major Funding Boost
Feb 19 2019 Read 1058 Times
Innovate UK has announced £1.5m funding for a University of Glasgow spinout bringing to market a fast method for disease diagnosis. Requiring a matching subcomponent of 30% from the private sector, this grant will support emerging biological sample analysis and point of care diagnostic company SAW Dx with the development of its low-cost sample preparation system over the next two years. The funding follows successful completion of a £1.1m award from the UK Government’s Biomedical Catalyst fund.
SAW Dx is built on unique acoustic-flow technology developed at the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering. Samples of patients’ blood, swabs or urine are placed on a disposable chip. The interaction between the sound waves and the chip enables the release of DNA and its amplification, enabling test results in as little as 10 minutes.
Dr Julien Reboud, a co-founder and one of the inventors of SAW Dx said: “This new award will help the company secure its foothold in the growing point of care diagnostic market, whilst also opening up other potential research applications.Point of care testing provides near-immediate results, which allows the clinician to optimise treatment decisions while the patient is still in the clinic, rather than prescribing unnecessary antibiotics, which is often the case today”.
Targeting markets including sexual health screening and hospital-acquired infections, in the respiratory health context, SAW is currently developing rapid tests for flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and strep A, which collectively affect 750 million people each year and are associated with expensive in-patient isolation for vulnerable patients (flu) and/or severe over-prescription of antibiotics (Strep A).
Professor Jon Cooper, director and academic founder of SAW Dx, said: “We’re extremely pleased to have won additional support from Innovate UK. Initial clinical tests of early prototypes of SAW Dx with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde have produced excellent results.
“We’re particularly excited to offer a technology with the potential to transform infectious disease care, whilst contributing to enhanced antimicrobial stewardship. For example, we note that recent publications in the Sexual Health field suggest the potential for point-of-care testing to reduce unnecessary prescriptions by an order of magnitude.”
The new Innovate UK award is timely, coming on the back of the updated antimicrobial resistance (AMR) strategy released on January 24, outlining the UK Government’s plan to tackle AMR over the next 5 and 20 years – in which the development of, and access to, effective diagnostics were key objectives.
In addition to support from Innovate UK, SAW Dx successfully closed a seed investment round in 2017 with IP Group, a developer of intellectual property-based businesses, and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise. The company is currently seeking additional investment. In early 2018, the company recruited Dr. Iain Miller, who brings extensive diagnostic industry experience, as CEO. Iain is leading the current fundraising round.
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