Novel Biosensor Technology for Flu Diagnosis Receives UK Funding

Biosensor company OJ-Bio, based in Newcastle, UK, has secured funds from the Biomedical Catalyst program toward its £1 million-plus project to develop a flu diagnostics device. The technology combines biosensor materials with advanced electronics in a small handheld device for the accurate detection of flu and other respiratory conditions from patient-supplied samples. The low-cost point-of-care device delivers results in minutes. It has been shown to detect influenza A and B viruses and respiratory synctyial virus (RSV) more quickly than current devices, according to a press release issued by the company.

OJ-Bio has worked with the UK Health Protection Agency during the past three years to develop and test the device. The latest funding approval will enable the company to develop lab-based prototypes into a fully functional pilot device capable of carrying out large-scale clinical trials.

OJ-Bio is a joint venture between the Newcastle-based biotechnology company Orla Protein Technologies Ltd. and the Japan Radio Company (JRC). Orla provides the specialist biosensor materials that are combined with JRC’s advanced electronics capability to create the new biochip technology platform. The biochip allows the diagnostic device to analyse samples from the patient. The results are displayed on a handheld reader such as a mobile phone. JRC’s expertise in wireless technology also means that the detection devices can be wireless, allowing connectivity to healthcare networks.

The Biomedical Catalyst program of public funding provides support to UK academics and small to medium-size enterprises operating in the life sciences sector.