Fourth submission results: Everything left to play for
27 Jul 2016
Written by Tamar Ghosh
The fourth submission deadline for the Longitude Prize closed on May 31st with two teams submitting applications for review by our Panel. At this time we also saw the PEAS Institut attend for an interview with a sub-group of the Longitude Prize Advisory Panel, as the second stage of their assessment for the Prize.
Interviewing PEAS Institut
PEAS Institut were the first team to progress through to the interview stage and the team of 3 were interviewed by a sub-group of five Longitude Prize Advisory Panel members. The sub-group was chaired by Penny Wilson from Innovate UK and included those from the fields of diagnostics, social sciences, intellectual property, global health and UK impact.
The PEAS team presented and interviewed with great enthusiasm for their work, and the test had several strengths. In particular it is very cheap, is simple and easy to use, provides a rapid result, is e, and doesn’t require an external power source. PEAS also explored the feasibility of the test in a range of communities.
Despite these strong attributes, the Panel decided that further development of the test would be required in order to take it through to the next stage of assessment, which would have been to conduct clinical trials. The Panel recommended some areas of improvement, including more clarity on how the science developed would optimise antibiotic use. There was also some further work needed on the plans for scaling the manufacture and distribution of this test in different regions.
On the basis of this feedback, PEAS therefore drop out of the race to win the Longitude Prize at this point, buy they can reapply at a later date if they wish to, with a new prototype for a test.
Assessing Spectral Platforms and RPS Diagnostics
The two teams that submitted full applications in this round were Spectral Platforms and RPS Diagnostics, both from the United States. These teams have taken different approaches to developing a diagnostic, both primarily using a blood samples but one detecting an immune response to infection and the other detecting pathogens. The test by RPS was quick, portable, is internally calibrated, and doesn’t require a plug in power source. The test from Spectral Platforms was similarly quick to result, and relatively cheap.
After review, however, the Prize Advisory Panel felt that neither test could progress to the next stage, mainly due to a lack of use of the tests in non-hospital or clinical settings. This was reflected in the expertise and resources needed to use the test, but also in the interpretation of the test outcome.
Changes to our application form
The highlights of the discussion from the Panel were a need for the application forms to more easily showcase the technical aspects of the diagnostic, including the level of testing that has been carried out. In terms of the quality of information from teams there was a continued interest from the Panel in teams addressing the ease of use criteria, paying particular attention to resourcing, social and economic considerations of a diagnostic test being used in low resource health settings.
As a result of this round of assessments, the Prize Advisory Panel asked for some improvements to the application form, to make the review process easier. Teams should include a simple flowchart of the step-by-step process of using the test. This follows an amendment after the last round of submissions, when the Prize Advisory Panel asked for teams to include a photo or image of their diagnostic test, with dimensions and weight.
The race to win the Longitude Prize is very much still on.