Infectious diseases claim the lives of thousands of people around the world every year. Though methods of diagnosis and treatment have come a long way in recent years, there is still work to do.
Infectious diseases can progress fast. That means that one of the key drivers of innovation is increasing speed of diagnosis. In the past samples would have to be taken to test for the likes of hepatitis or malaria and then sent to a lab. Results could then take days or even weeks to come back – which could be too long for some patients, especially in remote areas.
The most innovative companies working in infectious disease diagnostics are changing that. Despite using a range of testing systems, all of the companies I’ve mentioned below focus on cutting down the time between test and diagnosis.
Here are 5 companies to watch in 2019 that are changing the face of infectious disease.
This summer, GNA Biosolutions were the recipients of the American Association of Clinical Chemistry (AACC)’s first ever disruptive technology award.
The German-based company’s flagship offering is a simplified molecular testing service with results in minutes. Their pioneering Pulse Controlled Amplification (PCA) technology uses microcyclers heated by an external energy source before being instantly cooled by the surrounding reaction solution. This results in temperature ramps 10,000 times faster than conventional nucleic acid amplification.
They have one commercially available lab-based device and are developing portable and point-of-care (POC) solutions. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, even more physicians will have access to their technology and rapid results faster than ever before.
Lars Ullerich, Co-founder and Managing Director of GNA, lifting the American Association of Clinical Chemistry’s (AACC) first-ever 'Disruptive Technology Award'. The award recognizes innovative testing solutions that improve patient care through diagnostic performance or access to high-quality testing.
Ativa Medical were just pipped to the AACC award by GNA Biosolutions this year, but that’s not to say that their tech is any less exciting. Partnering with Honeywell and having gained backing from multiple global businesses, they’re preparing for an all-important FDA submission.
Their technology is a fluid processing engine which enables the processing of blood tests quickly and cheaply at the point of care. Effectively a miniature laboratory (hence the name MicroLAB), Ativa say that they will be able to provide every emergency, urgent care, critical care, retail pharmacy and primary physician care clinic with reliable access to faster test results.
Given that they are about to launch, we should see Ativa on the market next year. When we do, the fact that they are providing test results in just 3-5 minutes means their technology could have a huge impact on infectious disease diagnostics.
Not, as the name may suggest, 2 people struggling for cash, twoporeguys are developing a solution which detects and quantifies biomolecular targets rapidly and inexpensively.
According to them, their 1-and-2 pore solutions are to detect, differentiate and count molecules faster than any other technology currently being developed. Based on solid state nanopores, their solutions have a range of diagnostic applications across both human and animal diagnostics, including for cancers and infectious diseases.
Twoporeguys claim their system is significantly faster than the current 45 minutes ‘gold standard’ offered by Illumina’s Eco48 qPCR for diagnosis of infectious disease and have had early successes differentiating between gonorrhoea, chlamydia and trichomonas in the same test.
DNA Electronics are looking to bring one of the world’s most complex and sophisticated tasks – non genomic sequencing (NGS) to the point of care. Their LiDia system can perform a range of genomic analyses – from highly parallel separate tests to fully fledged NGS.
Having received over $50M in funding, they’ve got a lot of people talking in the POC space, including my colleague Adam, who mentioned them in an article he wrote earlier this year.
Once again, speed is at the heart of innovation here. DNAe have managed to reduce diagnosis time from days to hours and are currently conducting vital research into antimicrobial resistance and influenza. Their potential, amplified by significant financial backing, means they’re an extremely exciting company to keep watching whose ground breaking research is making waves across the industry.
(The GeneSTAT System from DXNA)
In short, DXNA have an ambitious plan. To bring molecular testing to the masses. Their real-time PCR system can be used by anyone, anytime, anywhere with minimal lab training or experience.
A significant humanitarian benefit of their technology is that they can introduce infectious disease molecular testing to underserved community hospitals and clinics. This means that diagnostic information that could previously have taken days or weeks to gather – sending samples off to a separate lab – can now be available in a matter of hours.
As time is critical when treating infectious diseases, the DXNA platform is sure to save hundreds, if not thousands, of lives in areas previously underserved by diagnostic labs.
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