Clinical need

Rapid test for STIs in development

December 2, 2019

University of Birmingham spinout Linear Diagnostics Ltd is to develop a rapid test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea that can detect infection from a single sample, allowing diagnosis and treatment in a single patient visit.

Globally, more than 1 million STIs are contracted every day. The latest UK figures show a 5% increase in diagnoses between 2017 and 2018, due to a large increase in the number of diagnoses for gonorrhoea (26%; from 44,812 to 56,259) and chlamydia (6%; from 205,365 to 218,095).

Rapid and appropriate antibiotic treatment is essential for both infections; chlamydia is largely asymptomatic and can cause infertility in women, and in gonorrhoea antimicrobial resistance has emerged to all previously used first line drugs – and the first strain resistant to dual therapy with ceftriaxone plus high-level azithromycin was isolated in England and Australia in 2018.

Dr Matt Hicks, CTO and Founder of Linear Diagnostics Limited, said:

“Point of care diagnosis means that sexual health clinics can deliver diagnosis and treatment in a single visit. It is critical to break the chain of person-to-person transmission, particularly as drug resistant strains are on the rise, and people who present for testing may not return to the clinic to collect test results and treatment.”

Linear Diagnostics was founded by researchers from the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham, Professor Tim Dafforn and Dr Matt Hicks. The pair aimed to develop diagnostic devices based on patented technologies that use linear dichroism – which uses polarised light to detect the presence of molecules in solution.

The move into sexual health follows £2m funding to further develop the technique to identify key gene sequences in a sample.  The funders expect that the company’s technology will be able to detect multiple genetic targets from a single sample within a 15 minute timescale.  Full details of the investment package can be found here.

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