Akubio wins £800,000 grant to develop electronic hand-held disease
24 October 2006
Cambridge, UK. Cambridge-based nanotechnology firm
Akubio, has received a £826,000 government grant to help develop its
electronic technology for the rapid detection of viruses and bacteria such
as avian flu, E coli, malaria and meningitis.
The £1.65m development programme, which will run over the next three
years, is part-funded by a collaborative R&D grant under the UK Department
of Trade and Industry’s Technology Programme.
Substantially different from
other diagnostic devices currently on the market (which require the addition
of expensive chemicals to a sample to enable disease detection), the device,
which utilises the quartz crystal element from a simple wristwatch and can
be powered by standard batteries, could enable doctors to make instant,
accurate, medical diagnoses at the bedside or in the field from blood or
Science & Innovation Minister Lord Sainsbury who announced
the grant said: "I am delighted that the Technology Strategy Board is
providing funds to support this project which will turn frontier research in
nanotechnology and biotechnology into a marketable product which can create
wealth and improve the quality of our lives."
The device’s sensor detects
specific molecules within a sample, using miniaturised echo sounder acoustic
technology to determine the presence of marker proteins for a particular
disease or disease causing pathogens such as bacteria or viruses including
avian flu, meningitis, E. coli, malaria, heart attack, stroke and some
Akubio’s Chief Scientist Dr Matthew Cooper said: “Building on our
first commercial product, RAP·id 4, this funding will accelerate our
development programme for the portable device and its companion products.
Our work is a proprietary application combining the very latest in
nanotechnology with the mass-produced quartz crystal resonator that is used
in everyday appliances. Disease detection and patient monitoring has the
potential to be significantly improved and there may also be cost benefits
for hospitals and surgeries that could perform tests themselves rather than
send away for them, potentially resulting in quicker diagnosis and improved
Akubio’s development partners are the University of
Cambridge and Melton Mowbray-based magnetic particle firm Reagent Mine Ltd.
University of Cambridge Professor of Biological Chemistry Chris Abell said:
"I am delighted to be part of this collaboration, helping to forge links
between academia and innovative industrial partners. The development of
novel solutions for the detection of life threatening diseases is a very
important area of research and one in which this kind of industry-academia
partnership potentially offers great synergies."