Rapid tests for meningitis and MRSA are being developed
Oct 17, 2005 - 7:20:38 PM

Rapid tests for serious disease such as meningitis, chlamydia and the hospital superbug MRSA are being developed by a new company, Atlas Genetics Ltd, which is being launched using £500,000 funding and the expertise of academics at the University of Bath.

Current hospital tests take up to 72 hours, by which time the patients may have become seriously ill and may have spread the disease.

Patents have been filed in relation to Atlas’s key technology and it is expected that it will enable hospitals and eventually GPs to perform tests on the spot and make decisions about treatment within 20 minutes. The potential market for Atlas’s products is valued at over $3 billion (£1.7 billion) and is growing rapidly.

The company is working on a product that will analyse a clinical sample of blood, urine or saliva using a test cartridge inserted into a small, portable instrument.

The basis of this sensitive and specific test is an electronic tag developed by the company that automatically indicates the presence of DNA from the bacteria causing the disease.

This innovative technology has been developed over the last three years with a team of leading scientists from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Bath, including Professor Laurie Peter, Dr Toby Jenkins, Dr Chris Frost and Dr Stephen Flower. This was in collaboration with companies now acquired by Osmetech Plc, which is also a party to the current joint venture.

The commercial and technical management team of Dr John Clarkson, Dr Gordon Forrest, Dr Russ Keay, Alison Kibble and Karen Yates is highly experienced and have held senior positions in medical diagnostics, health care marketing, product development and finance.

The £500,000 already raised came in part from the Sulis Seedcorn Fund, which provides support for the new businesses set up using research carried out by the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Southampton. The Sulis institutional investment matched a £250,000 investment from a private investor who was introduced by the South West Angel and Investor Network (SWAIN), which brings together investors and companies seeking equity funding in the South West region.

Atlas was set up with the guidance and support of the University's Research and Innovation Services, which markets the University's resources of people, facilities and intellectual property to generate funds in support of research and teaching.

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