Hand-held device can diagnose flu virus strains in minutes
13 November 2012
Newcastle-based OJ-Bio has secured funds from the UK
Biomedical Catalyst programme further develop a device for the rapid,
simple and low cost diagnosis of flu and other viruses.
technology combines specialist bio-sensor materials with advanced
electronics in a small hand-held device for the accurate detection of
flu and other respiratory conditions from patient supplied samples.
Importantly, the device can be used at the patient’s bed side or
other point of care, such as a GP surgery or pharmacy, with the
results being available within minutes and without samples being
sent for laboratory analysis.
Drawing showing the device connected to a
mobile phone for displaying results
For the last three years
OJ-Bio has worked with the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) to
successfully develop and test the new biosensor device. This has
proven its ability to successfully detect three potent respiratory
viruses much more quickly than current methods. These incude
influenza A and B viruses, common flu strains previously linked to
some major epidemics, and Respiratory Synctyial Virus (RSV), a major
cause of coughs and chest infections.
The latest funding approval will enable the company to build on
its existing work by developing lab-based prototypes into a fully
functional pilot device capable of carrying out large scale clinical
Dale Athey, chief executive of OJ-Bio, said: “This award will
enable us to accelerate the development of our new product which we
believe has significant market potential.
“Flu viruses cause misery for millions of people each year and
early diagnosis is vital. Drugs are only effective in the first few
days after symptoms appear and current tests which involve
laboratory analysis of samples simply aren’t fast enough.
“Our new device provides a low cost test that dramatically
improves the speed of diagnosis and treatment that should hit the
disease at source and limit its ability to spread.”
OJ-BiO CEO Dale Athey holds a tray of biosensors
OJ-Bio is a joint venture between the Newcastle-based
biotechnology company Orla Protein Technologies Ltd. and the Japan
Radio Company (JRC). Orla provides the specialist biosensor
materials that are combined with JRC’s advanced electronics
capability to create the new ‘biochip’ technology platform.
The biochip allows the diagnostic device to analyse samples from
the patient, with the results being displayed on a complementary
hand held reading device such as a mobile phone. JRC’s expertise in
wireless technology also means that the detection devices can be
wireless enabled allowing connectivity to healthcare networks.
OJ-Bio will now embark on a programme that will involve new
product design work and multi channel biochip development, alongside
further investigation into the results reader and associated
This work will involve extensive input from doctors, nurses and
other healthcare staff and will result in the development of a fully
working device that can be used in extensive clinical trials.
OJ-Bio is already taking an international lead in the development
of mass manufactured bio detection devices. The work on developing
an effective flu diagnosis device also has the potential to be
adapted for other infectious diseases.