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Prototype to test for sexual infections



“We welcome this investment which will ensure better outcomes for patients."

A 15-minute test is being developed to identify sexually transmitted infections, such as chlamydia and gonorrhoea

The rapid test will be able to spot multiple infections by labelling each infection indicator with a different coloured dye.

More than one million sexually transmitted diseases are acquired every day according to the World Health Organisation and because patients have either no or mild symptoms, they can be difficult to diagnose initially.

The new test means doctors will be able to provide efficient on the spot treatment, which will reduce the risk of transmission.

It is part of development work by Linear Diagnostics Ltd to develop platform technology for point of care diagnostics.

The Birmingham based company recently secured £800,000 from the Midlands Engine Investment Fund and others investors to develop its diagnostic technology based on research in linear dichroism.

Patented by University of Birmingham Enterprise, it uses polarised light to detect the presence of molecules in solutions.

The company, founded in 2011 by Professor Tim Dafforn and Dr Matt Hicks as a spinout from the University of Birmingham’s School of Biosciences, has achieved clinical levels of accuracy in tests within its lab environment.

The funding package includes backing from MEIF Equity Finance, managed by venture capital firm Midven, the University of Birmingham and the UKI2S Fund. The UK Future Fund matched the investment from the initial investors.

Brendan Farrell of Linear Diagnostics, said: “The funds received will enable Linear Diagnostics to develop a prototype single use cartridge and reader for our duplex test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.”

Roger Wood of Midven, said: “The requirement for rapid and accurate point of care diagnostics has been brought into sharp focus by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are many other disease areas that could equally benefit from this approach and Linear Diagnostics is making excellent progress with the development of its testing platform. This funding round will enable the company to continue its good work at pace.”

Oliver Sexton, Director at UKI2S, said: “Linear Diagnostics’ platform will be able to identify the presence or absence of genetic biomarkers in under 20 minutes. Such rapid gene-based diagnosis is transformative for diseases and disorders that respond to extremely rapid intervention or require diagnosis outside access to centralised laboratory services”

Tim Pile, of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It is hugely exciting to hear that Linear Diagnostics Ltd has secured MEIF funding.

“Given the challenges presented by Covid-19, it is critical we do what we can to advance our regional offering in diagnostic technology.

“We welcome this investment which will ensure better outcomes for patients and opportunities for businesses. GBSLEP is committed to helping create opportunities in the health tech sector which we see as a priority growth area in the region.”

The Midlands Engine Investment Fund project is supported financially by the European Union using funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 and the European Investment Bank.

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