Oxford Gene Technology (OGT), St George’s University of London and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust has announced the signing of a collaboration agreement to develop a single platform microarray to diagnose multiple sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The collaboration between OGT and St George’s aims to develop a diagnostic test to detect the DNA of many sexually transmitted pathogens in one specimen from infected people.
The array technology will lend itself to the development of point-of-care testing for multiple STIs.
The STI diagnostic microarray is a timely investment in new gene technologies that directly address the emerging crisis of STIs in the UK, highlighted by the recent report of the Health Protection Agency (2006).
Dr Tariq Sadiq, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Genito Urinary Physician at St George’s, said on behalf of the University and NHS Trust “The incidence of STI continues to rise and is challenging our ability to provide care for our patients, directly costing the NHS in excess of £1 billion a year."
"As more responsibility for this care falls on settings such as GP practices, community based sexual health care providers and even high street pharmacies; concern exists for the need to maintain high standards of diagnostic accuracy while also recognising the increasing role of many infections not traditionally tested for.”
“If successful, we think the microarray may be an important tool in the attempts to reduce the burden of STIs and their transmission” Sadiq continued.
In partnership with St George’s clinical and microbiology expertise, OGT will design and develop the optimised 60mer oligonucleotide microarray using its ink jet in-situ synthesis (IJISS) platform and will also investigate the use of its Multi Sample Array (MSA) format enabling the parallel analysis of multiple samples.
Dr John Anson, Research and Development Director at OGT said: “OGT’s microarray technologies will provide a nucleic acid based tool which, coupled with PCR amplification, is aimed at producing a diagnostic test to improve the detection range, accuracy and the speed of STI diagnosis to meet clinician’s needs.”
The project will be jointly funded by the Heptagon Proof of Concept Fund and OGT and will last a year in the first instance. By then end of this period, the team hope to have a prototype which will then be validated using clinical samples.