SAW Diagnostics has been awarded a £1.5m grant from Innovate UK in support of its low-cost sample preparation system for use in infectious disease detection and other applications.
The new non-dilutive award follows the recent successful completion of work under a £1m award from the UK Government’s Biomedical Catalyst fund, directed towards development of the company’s detection technology for infectious disease diagnostics, and paves the way for the company to secure its next venture round to drive commercialisation of its platform and first product.
The Innovate UK programme, which requires industry-matched funding, will finance development of the company’s integrated sample processing technology platform over the next two years.
The platform is designed to enable molecular detection directly from a range of complex clinical sample types in a range of ‘near-patient’ and research settings.
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, potentially enabling test results in as little as 15 minutes.
“Automated extraction of nucleic acid from diverse complex sample types is a major bottleneck in clinical testing today, often requiring that samples are sent to remote laboratories for expert analysis,” said Dr Iain Miller, chief executive of SAW Dx.
“Our technology reduces the complexity and cost of the workflow, thereby truly enabling testing in diverse clinical settings that do not require laboratory expertise, such as doctors’ offices, in-pharmacy or other near-patient environments.
There is high competition for Innovate UK awards and our successful bid underlines the potential seen in our innovation
“This new award, together with equity financing which the company is currently raising, will help the company secure its foothold in the growing point-of-care sample preparation and diagnostic market, while also opening up other potential research applications.”
The Innovate UK funding comes on the back of the updated antimicrobial resistance (AMR) strategy, outlining the UK Government’s plan to tackle AMR over the next five and 20 years – in which the development of, and access to, effective diagnostics were key objectives.
SAW Dx is targeting several markets for its initial product, including sexual health screening, respiratory health management and hospital acquired infections.
Point-of-care testing provides near-immediate results which allows clinicians to optimise treatment decisions while the patient is still in the clinic, rather than prescribing unnecessary antibiotics.
We’re particularly encouraged to have invented a technology with the potential to transform infectious disease care, while contributing to enhanced antimicrobial stewardship
Professor Jon Cooper, director and academic founder of SAW Dx, said: “There is high competition for Innovate UK awards and our successful bid underlines the potential seen in our innovation.
“Initial clinical tests of early prototypes of SAW Dx with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde have already produced excellent results.
“We’re particularly encouraged to have invented a technology with the potential to transform infectious disease care, while 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 antibiotic prescriptions by an order of magnitude.”