Summaries of Discovery Award Round 2 Winners
This page holds bite-sized summaries of what each Discovery Award winning team is working on. Click here to see the original announcement which features more information about the awards.
Coris BioConcept, Belgium:
Coris BioConcept is a middle-sized company specialised in developing, manufacturing and marketing rapid diagnostic tests. These tests are based on strip chromatography principle with the use of colloidal gold particles, latex microspheres or fluorescent dyes (ICT). The ICT range allows for detection of infectious diseases including enteric pathogens and respiratory pathogens. A new range of ICT products has been recently developed for detecting carbapenemase-producing Enterobacteriaceae (CPE).
Drugs & Diagnostics for Tropical Diseases, USA:
The standard methodology to determine which antibiotic should be prescribed for a given infection is to perform a susceptibility test.
The microbe is cultured on a plate in the presence of an array of potential antibiotics. Only the antibiotics that completely inhibit microbial growth can be recommended as treatment.
Susceptibility tests require a minimum of one day to perform, and do not allow a medical doctor to make a decision on the spot. We propose a rapid antimicrobial resistance test. The assay determines if, for a given pathogen, an antibiotic can bind to its intended biological target or if the latter has mutated into a drug-resistant form. Because binding events are so fast, the test will be complete within minutes, allowing a decision to be made at the point-of-care. The assay obviates the need for cell culture and is based on a lateral flow assay (LFA) format, the same format as the consumer pregnancy test.
EDPAL, Bradford & Lincoln:
Our objective is to design a rapid, simple and inexpensive diagnostic test to identify the most significant gram-negative pathogens. We are transferring our knowledge of wool science, essentially the chemistry and physical properties of proteins, to the protein structures in Gram Negative Bacteria (GNB). On the premise that protein chemistry is the same whether in the structure of wool or GNB we will exploit the ability of the protein elements to select different colour complexing molecules (due to the amino acid sequence/orientation) and use differential staining to classify bacteria into separate categories on the basis of their protein elements and colour complex-elution properties.
We are working on a diagnostic device which can facilitate in early detection of bacterial or viral infection in the bloodstream, at the very onset of a pathogenic infection when the pathogen counts are still very low. The diagnostic device consequently can also potentially aid in the differential diagnosis of bacterial versus viral infections. The technology is based on microfluidic cell separation and flow focusing micro-devices and integration with downstream sensor modules which will be developed as a part of this project. The proposed diagnostic device is intended to trap and isolate the bacterial and viral cells that might be present in an infected blood sample.
Encompass Consortium, Australia:
We are developing rapid methods to determine antimicrobial susceptibility with the accuracy and speed needed to influence a physician's initial choice of antibiotics. Our first generation flow cytometer-assisted antimicrobial susceptibility tests (FAST) match the accuracy of the current international standard in less than three hours, compared to 24 hours by the standard approach. We aim to miniaturise and automate the FAST method for near point-of-care use.
Going against the Flow, Australia:
We are working on a point-of-care test that can detect the activation of neutrophils to enable early detection and treatment of sepsis. In our test we are not detecting infection directly. We are instead relying on the body's sensitive and rapid response to bacterial infections using novel, yet simple methods to detect this early response by neutrophils. This test would allow greatly reduced use of broad-spectrum antibiotics that are administered when sepsis is suspected but can't be ruled out by current tests that are not sensitive enough, and/or take too long to give a result.
ID Genomics, Inc.:
Millions of disease-causing bacterial strains can be simplified into a few dozens of discrete, genetically homogeneous ‘crime families’ (clonal groups), each with distinct responses to antibiotics. Using only a handful of genetic targets, ID Genomics has developed a proprietary set of binary genomic barcodes to quickly identify these ‘crime families’ by using culture-independent barcoding technology or CLoNeTTM. These barcodes are linked to our reference metadata biorepository, BactNetTM, which connects them to responses to 22 commonly used antibiotics. BactNetTM is a constantly updated state-of-the-art epidemiological surveillance system developed through research collaborations with nine (and expanding) clinical laboratories across the U.S. and Europe. Using our diagnostic tools, clinicians will be able to stratify patient risk and determine which antibiotics, if any, should be used to treat the patient.
Microplate - Strathclyde Biomedical Engineering & SIPBS:
We are attempting to shrink the hospital microbiology laboratory onto a single microchip. The Microplate project brings together expertise to begin the development of a new rapid diagnostic test for antimicrobial susceptibility. Using an interdisciplinary approach, the project will combine cutting edge aspects of these research areas to develop a new antibiotic susceptibility test.
Module Innovations, India:
The idea we are developing is an affordable and innovative diagnostic platform, based on colour changing polymers, for rapid microbial detection. USense allows for the visual detection of the presence of 4 specific uropathogens, including E.coli in just 30-60 minutes, a significant reduction from the time required for standard culture testing (2-3 days). Moreover, USense can be deployed without needing a laboratory, trained personnel, electricity and has easy to interpret results.
OxTB, Cambridge and Oxford:
We are developing a bedside-test that uses whole-genome sequencing (WGS) technology to determine the presence of M. tuberculosis in a clinical sample, predict drug-susceptibility, and inform disease surveillance by demonstrating the genomic relationships to previously seen strains. The test uses the Oxford Nanopore (ONT) handheld MinION platform for which we are optimising cheap and simple methods of DNA extraction, and easy-to-use software for WGS-data analysis. Our group’s work has led to the country-wide roll-out of routine WGS from mycobacterial culture in England.
We have developed a method of phase-shift reflectometric interference spectroscopic measurements, referred to as PRISM that monitors bacterial activity on photonic silicon-based microstructures in real time. With this method we can rapidly determine minimum inhibitory concentrations of antibiotics using miniaturised photonic chips in a substantially faster time readout time in comparison to state-of-the-art, automated AST systems, such as the Vitek 2. This phenotypic AST platform optically measures interactions of bacteria colonised on a microstructured surface without the need of fluorescence labels, excessive pre-handling, or genomic/metabolic profiling.
RAPDIF, The Netherlands:
We want to improve the diagnosis of febrile diseases (diseases with uncertain causes) in sub-Sahara Africa. We have a research focus on Burkina Faso, one of the poorest countries in the world with a lot of health problems. Our project aims to develop a diagnostic tool that can identify bacterial infections, preferably at point-of-care with the patient. This will help clinicians make the right treatment decisions, avoid the use of unneeded antibiotics and will, hence, contribute to the containment of drug resistance.
Rapid AMR Detection Team -University of Bristol:
We are developing an optical technique to rapidly detect whether bacteria are alive or not. This will allow us to test different antibiotics to determine which drugs the bacteria are susceptible and resistant to. The test will enable healthcare professionals to prescribe effective antibiotics, leading to optimal treatment and fewer complications as well as reducing the volume of antibiotics prescribed, thus slowing the spread of resistance. Our technique relies on optical detection of the state of bacteria after injecting antibiotics and does not rely on bacteria growth.