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NanoKTN Event Brings Partners Together to Secure £1million Funding for HIV Test Development

Published: Monday, December 17, 2012
Last Updated: Monday, December 17, 2012
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Researchers from University College London, and industry partners OJ-Bio, awarded i4i funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

The Nanotechnology Knowledge Transfer Network one of the UK’s primary knowledge-based networks for Micro and Nanotechnologies, is pleased to announce that, following attendance at one of their events, two of its members have been awarded Invention for Innovation (i4i) funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

Dr Rachel McKendry from UCL (University College London) and Dr Dale Athey from OJ-Bio first met whilst both attending the NanoKTN’s Miniaturisation in Healthcare Products event in November 2011. The meeting has led to a successful collaboration where both partners will be working on the new hand-held device that can diagnose patients at the early stages of HIV and give results within minutes. The device, which resembles a smart phone, will help widen access to HIV testing in non-hospital settings, including GP surgeries, pharmacies, and community settings as the test and delivery of results will occur immediately. It could also be of benefit to health workers in developing countries who urgently need rapid and affordable ways to diagnose patients.

The new device uses low-cost electrical sensors developed by OJ-Bio and partners Japan Radio Company, that are already used in mobile phones, called surface acoustic wave sensors. It will combine OJ-Bio’s innovative sensor technology with special HIV-specific coatings developed at UCL.

Dr Rachel McKendry, Reader in Biomedical Nanoscience at the London Centre for Nanotechnology and lead investigator from UCL said: “We attended the NanoKTN’s Miniaturisation in Healthcare Products event back in November 2011 and met with OJ-Bio and started talking about the potential of collaborating on the development of this new device. So far the technology has been proven to work using model HIV samples and now thanks to NIHR i4i funding, early stage clinical work will develop the technology to operate in human blood. It is exciting to work with OJ-Bio to develop this technology which could potentially benefit millions of people.”

“At the very early stages of HIV, marker proteins in a patient’s blood are often very difficult to detect with current point of care tests. The beauty of our technology is its inherent sensitivity to low levels of multiple markers, with the potential for much earlier diagnosis of HIV. This will empower patients to gain earlier access to antiretroviral treatment with better associated health outcomes.”

Dr Felicity Sartain, Theme Manager - Healthcare & Life Sciences at the NanoKTN added, “We are delighted to have played such a key role in bringing together OJ-Bio and UCL to work on such an exciting collaborative project. The NanoKTN’s aim is to encourage collaboration and knowledge transfer between key players in industry and academia to support the UK supply chain and to create the continued economic wealth for UK industry.”
In the UK, there are an estimated 100,000 carriers of HIV but more than 25% are unaware of their infection. Worldwide, HIV/AIDS has grown to pandemic proportions and today there are 35 million people living with the virus, two-thirds of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

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