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Avacta, Leeds University receive £3.8m grant to develop new diagnostic tests

MDBR Staff Writer Published 11 August 2016

Avacta Group and Leeds University have received a £3.8m grant from the UK’s Medical Research Council to develop new diagnostic tests.

The funding will be used to develop novel and rapid diagnostic tools integrating Affimer reagents. They will be used to differentiate viral and bacterial infections, as well as bacterial strains.

Under the collaborative development programme, Avacta and Leeds University will develop next generation biosensors to differentiate between bacterial and viral infections.

Biosensors will also be used to determine which bacterial strain will cause infections, helping to administer correct antibiotic quickly.

Avacta said the new tests will allow for more targeted use of antibiotics, reducing the number of wrongly prescribed treatments and increasing efficacy for patients, which will contribute to a reduction in anti-microbial resistance (AMR).

Affimer technology is an engineered alternative to antibodies, which can capture a target such as bacterial or viral protein with a high degree of specificity.

Affimer reagents will be used to create accurate diagnostic tests and laboratory assays. They can also be developed as new therapeutic candidates.

As part of the deal, Avacta will hold the first rights to commercialise the new Affimer reagents and new diagnostic tests developed under the programme.

Avacta Group chief executive Alastair Smith said: “I am delighted that the potential of Affimer reagents to improve rapid diagnostics has been recognised by the Medical Research Council through this substantial funding.

“The combination with the innovative microfluidic devices developed at Leeds University is very promising and could lead to a new class of rapid test device.”