27 Feb SAW Diagnostics Receives £1.5M Innovate UK Funding to Support Commercialisation of its Point-of-Care Diagnostics Technology Platform
SAW Dx Limited, an emerging biological sample analysis and point-of-care diagnostic company, announced today that Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation Agency, has awarded the company a £1.5M grant in support of the company’s low-cost sample preparation system, for use in infectious disease detection and other applications.
The new non-dilutive award follows the recent successful completion of work under a £1M award from the UK Government’s Biomedical Catalyst fund, directed towards development of the company’s detection technology for infectious disease diagnostics, and paves the way for the Company to secure its next venture round to drive commercialisation of its platform and first product.
The Innovate UK programme, which requires industry matched funding, will finance development of the Company’s integrated sample processing technology platform over the next two years. The platform is designed to enable molecular detection directly from a range of complex clinical sample types in a range of ‘near-patient’ and research settings.
SAW Dx is built on unique acoustic-flow technology developed at the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering. Samples of patients’ blood, swabs or urine are placed on a disposable chip. The interaction between the sound waves and the chip enables the release of DNA and its amplification, potentially enabling test results in as little as 15 minutes.
“Automated extraction of nucleic acid from diverse complex sample types is a major bottleneck in clinical testing today, often requiring that samples are sent to remote laboratories for expert analysis,” said Dr Iain Miller, CEO of SAW Dx.
“Our technology reduces the complexity and cost of the workflow, thereby truly enabling testing in diverse clinical settings that do not require laboratory expertise, such as doctors’ offices, in-pharmacy or other near-patient environments. This new award, together with equity financing which the company is currently raising, will help the company secure its foothold in the growing point-of-care sample preparation and diagnostic market, whilst also opening up other potential research applications.”
The new Innovate UK funding is timely, coming on the back of the updated antimicrobial resistance (AMR) strategy, outlining the UK Government’s plan to tackle AMR over the next 5 and 20 years – in which the development of, and access to, effective diagnostics were key objectives.
SAW Dx is targeting several markets for its initial product, which it plans to serve in collaboration with major corporate partners. These markets include sexual health screening, respiratory health management and hospital acquired infections. Point-of-care testing provides near-immediate results which allows the clinician to optimise treatment decisions while the patient is still in the clinic, rather than prescribing unnecessary antibiotics, which is often the case today.
Professor Jon Cooper, Director and academic founder of SAW Dx, added: “There is high competition for Innovate UK awards, and our successful bid underlines the potential seen in our innovation. Initial clinical tests of early prototypes of SAW Dx with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde have already produced excellent results. We’re particularly encouraged to have invented a technology with the potential to transform infectious disease care, whilst contributing to enhanced antimicrobial stewardship. For example, we note that recent publications in the sexual health field suggest the potential for point-of-care testing to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions by an order of magnitude.”
There are over 200M Sexually Transmitted Infections annually in major markets, and recent analyses demonstrate the potential for point-of-care testing to reduce time to cure from 4 to 2 days. In the Respiratory Health context, SAW is developing rapid test solutions for flu, RSV and Strep A, which collectively affect 750M people/year in developed markets and are associated with expensive in-patient isolation for vulnerable patients (flu) and/or severe over-prescription of antibiotics (Strep A). In the Hospital Acquired Infections context, SAW Dx technology has the potential to better direct antibiotic resources, thereby reducing the emergence of drug-resistant strains which kill 700,000 patients/year in developed markets. The SAW Dx point-of-care platform will compete in a broader global molecular diagnostic market context estimated to reach $12.5 Billion by 2024.
SAW Dx closed a seed investment round in 2017 with IP Group plc, a leading investor in intellectual property-based businesses, and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise. The company is currently seeking additional investment in the form of a follow-on advanced seed round.