GFC Diagnostics has been awarded one of the three Longitude Prize Discovery Awards awarded to UK organisations for the company's ground-breaking development of a test which successfully detects antibiotic resistant bacteria, including the superbug MRSA, within 30 minutes.
The test, called MicroScreen, detects the genes inside the antibiotic resistant bacteria and is a major breakthrough in the battle against drug resistant infection, now widely regarded as a ticking time-bomb. Chief Medical Office, Professor Dame Sally Davies has said: "Antimicrobial resistance poses a catastrophic threat" adding that "antibiotic resistance represents a threat that may be "as important as climate change for the world".
MicroScreen presents a cheap, quick and simple test which can be used on pre-operative patients in hospital to establish if they carry antiobitic restistant bacteria, including MRSA, to to avoid uneccesssary use of antiobiotics and ensure they receive appropriate treatment for their own recovery and the well-being of other patients. To date other tests available are complex, need to use expensive equipment and take around three days for the results to be made available.
Bruce Savage, CEO of GFC Diagnostics says "Our test takes about thirty minutes and does not need expensive equipment or highly trained staff.
"This test could be a major step forward to reduce the harm caused by drug resistant bacteria. Drug resistant infections are on the rise with up to 50,000 lives lost each year to antibiotic-resistant infections in Europe and the US alone. This rapid test will give a quick diagnosis and prevent the unnecessary use of broad spectrum antibiotics. It will reduce healthcare costs by helping to stop the spread of deadly infections throughout a hospital."
The technology can also be used to detect other bacteria including deadly strains of drug resistant tuberculosis and CPE (Carbapenem Aseproducing Enterobacteriaceae). Bruce Savage said: "The grant will help our work to detect the so called ‘nightmare bug' CPE which is resistant to nearly all known antibiotics, is often fatal and spreading fast across the world.
The Discovery Awards were announced at The Royal Society in London and mark the second anniversary of the Longitude Prize - a global challenge to tackle the issue of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by reducing overuse of antibiotics.
GFC Diagnostics will receive a grant to be used in developing ideas and overcoming the technical challenges of making a submission for the main Longitude Prize challenge which offers £10 million for the development of a novel, affordable and rapid point-of-care test that could be used anywhere in the world to determine when antibiotics should be used.
According to the Longitude Prize's latest UK public survey1 around three-quarters (74%) of people believe a positive test for bacterial infection should be compulsory before being able to access antibiotics. Eight in ten (81%) agreed that having access to a cheap and simple home test for bacterial infections would affect their decision of whether to seek out antibiotics. Attention is turning increasingly to the role of diagnostic tests to combat the spread of antibiotic resistance, as seen with the recent announcement of the Boots-NHS partnership on pharmacy-based bacterial tests for sore throats2
Daniel Berman, Longitude Prize lead at Nesta, the innovation foundation, said "We're delighted to announce today the recipients of Longitude Discovery Award funding, chosen from a field of over 70 teams of inventors. The groups receiving these grants are working across a range of technologies, from nanosensors to gene detectors to lasers, but they are all working towards one goal - the development a tool which will radically transform the way people access antibiotics and help to fight the growing threat of antibiotic resistance."
1. Populus interviewed a sample of 2,348 UK adults aged 18+ from its online panel between 26-28 October 2016. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. Populus is a founder member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information at www.populus.co.uk.