TwistDx’s rapid test for MRSA winner in NHS Smart Solutions Programme

10 February 2009

TwistDx, a DNA diagnostics company based in Cambridge, UK, has been selected as a winner in a National Health Service competition to find new ways to help combat healthcare associated infections (HCAIs).

A rapid, portable, point-of-care test for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), developed by TwistDx based on a new way of detecting DNA, was one of nine products chosen from approximately 250 applications submitted to the Smart Solutions for HCAI programme, an NHS project that aims to identify innovative technologies with the potential to fight hospital bugs.

TwistDx’s MRSA test and the other winning products will be evaluated in a hospital setting early 2009. If effective, the MRSA test could be used in patient screening protocols throughout the NHS.

“Being selected as a winner in this NHS programme is a great result not only for TwistDx but for patients who may benefit from this advance. For MRSA screening to work efficiently, it is vitally important that an accurate test result is available quickly at the point of entry to care as well at the bed-side. We believe our MRSA test is ideally suited to cost-effectively meet these requirements and will ultimately make a dramatic improvement in patient care,” noted Dr. Niall Armes, CEO of TwistDx.

TwistDx is applying its novel DNA technology, Recombinase Polymerase Amplification (RPA), to develop a rapid, portable test for MRSA that has the potential to give results within 10-15 mins. RPA is a new DNA amplification technology that allows diagnostic tests to retain the highest possible levels of specificity and sensitivity, while adding superior speed and portability compared to current DNA diagnostics. Current methods for detecting MRSA include a variety of microbiological and DNA diagnostic tests, which usually require centralised testing and can take up to 48 hours or more for results.

The RPA-based MRSA test will offer immediate diagnosis and, if positive, allow nursing staff to take appropriate action to prevent the spread of the infection. The low instrumentation needs and ease of use of the TwistDx MRSA test offers the possibility of minimal access costs to implement gold standard molecular testing throughout the health care setting.

MRSA is a resistant variation of the common bacterium Staphylococcus aureus (staph) that has evolved an ability to survive treatment with antibiotics, including penicillin, methicillin, and cephalosporins. The NHS and other health authorities worldwide have recognised that MRSA is especially troublesome in hospital-associated infections as hospital patients with open wounds, invasive devices and weakened immune systems are at greater risk for infection than the general public.

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