OJ Bio develops prototype hand-held disease diagnostics lab
7 November 2014
Newcastle company OJ Bio has successfully completed the prototype
development of a portable wireless point-of-care diagnostic system
that accurately and quickly identifies the presence of a range of
viruses and bacteria in patient fluid samples.
Formal clinical trials using the device to detect a number of
respiratory viruses are planned to begin in early 2015. The company
has been supported by Innovate UK’s (formerly the Technology
Strategy Board) Biomedical Catalyst Fund.
The system combines new test assays carried on a multichannel
biochip with a specialist reading device and supporting diagnostic
software that can be carried on a mobile app, PC or the device
Importantly, the diagnostic device can be used at a patient’s bed
side or other point-of-care location, such as a GP surgery or
pharmacy, with the results being available immediately and without
samples being sent for laboratory analysis. This capability also
enables the device to be used in the patient’s home.
The state-of-the-art biosensors at the heart of the OJ Bio system
bring together advanced technology from the company’s two parent
organisations: Japan Radio Company (JRC) and Orla Protein
JRC has developed Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) electronic chips
which are coated with disease-specific biocapture surfaces developed
by Orla — see image below.
Diagram showing the biocapture process of the
surface acoustic wave chips
When biological samples, from serum, urine, saliva or blood, are
applied to the biochip (held in a disposable cartridge), the
presence of a disease antigen causes a shift in the phase angle of
the surface acoustic wave passing across the chip surface and this
is translated into an electronic signal.
This signal can
then be detected and its presence (or absence) determined, providing
an unequivocal pass or fail result for the particular disease being
tested for. Bluetooth connection of the reading device to special
diagnostic software enables the test results to be displayed within
OJ Bio’s Biomedical Catalyst Fund work has so far
focussed on research into the detection and diagnosis of the
influenza A and B viruses, common flu strains previously linked to
some major epidemics, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), a major
cause of coughs and chest infections.
In addition, a number of other complementary projects are also
underway to detect the presence of, for example, periodontal gum
disease and HIV.
Dale Athey, chief executive of OJ Bio, said: “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. However, the flexibility of the
technology platform has wide ranging diagnostic testing potential,
not only for the detection of human medical infections and
conditions, but also for use in animal testing by veterinary
“Recent progress has enabled us to accelerate the development of
our system and projects are underway with partners in several market
sectors which involve the use of the technology in a wide range of
OJ Bio owns the IP for biosurface and SAW technology and is
working with clients by assisting with technology support and
product development to clinical trial stage. Bio assay
development is continuing in the UK and manufacturing facilities are
already under development in Japan.
Also home use Bio Assay development continues in the UK and
manufacturing facilities are already in development in Japan.