Birmingham spinout to develop 20-minute test following surge in sexually transmitted infections
University of Birmingham spinout Linear Diagnostics, which specialises in near-patient diagnostics for sexually transmitted diseases, has received funding to finesse a point-of-care test for rapid diagnosis of gonorrhoea and Chlamydia in men who have sex with men (MSM), and women who have sex with women (WSW).
The funding from the UK's National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) will cover essential work to optimise and validate Linear's platform technology so it can diagnose infection from rectal and pharyngeal (throat) swabs.
Gonorrhoea and Chlamydia are both major public health concerns. While Chlamydia remains the most commonly detected sexually transmitted infection in the UK, the UK Health Security Agency recently warned of a surge in gonorrhoea cases, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has noted the rapid increase in multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea, with all confirmed treatment failures except one being pharyngeal infections affecting the throat.
The most commonly used tests identify DNA from swabs or urine samples, and require laboratory processing, meaning it can be days or even weeks between testing and result.
Brendan Farrell, Chairman of Linear Diagnostics, said: "For STIs, the rapidity of the testing procedure is key, as patients prefer to get test results quickly and start treatment immediately. We are aiming to produce a testing platform that will meet the WHO stipulations of being easy to use with minimal training, so people can present for testing and collect their treatment in a single visit."
Linear Diagnostics' platform technology uses linear dichroism, where a beam of polarised light detects multiple targets in a sample, to provide fast, accurate diagnosis by detecting pathogen DNA in samples. The company's proprietary technologies include a new DNA amplification technique.
Linear Diagnostics is now seeking commercial partners to develop a portable, low-cost, point-of-care diagnostic that will identify Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoea from a single sample within a 20-minute timescale, making it faster than any current alternative.