British biotech QuantuMDx has been awarded a UK government’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) grant to develop Q-TB™, a rapid and cheap test that will analyse sputum samples at the patient’s side and diagnose multi-drug resistant TB (MDR-TB) within 15 minutes enabling immediate personalised prescription of the most effective TB drug treatment.
TB causes 2m deaths every year despite most cases being curable. The disposable Q-TB™ cartridge will be used on Q-POC™, QuantuMDx’s universal handheld diagnostic device and provide a technology leap for both developing nations which lack healthcare infrastructure and the overburdened healthcare systems of developed nations which are seeing an re-emergence of MDR-TB, particularly within inner cities.
The three year £2m project will integrate QuantuMDx’s state of the art DNA analysis device with a novel sputum disruption technology and a comprehensive TB biomarker panel developed by St George’s, University of London and its partners. The project is particularly strong as it also embraces the expertise of various global academic TB Groups and several TB focused charities and NGOs who are currently working in the field to help eradicate the disease and who understand, first hand, what is needed for a rapid TB diagnostic.
The state of the art device will enable doctors, nurses and health professionals alike to perform complex testing that will guide prescription of targeted drug treatments. The patient’s sputum sample is automatically prepared in a specially designed sample cup, which is then integrated in a closed system with the device’s disposable test cartridge. With the press of a single button, the device will automatically extract, amplify and detect the TB DNA using a range of innovative lab-on-a-chip technologies, providing a diagnostic and drug susceptibility result in under 15 minutes.
QuantuMDx’s Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder Jonathan O’Halloran said "Currently MDR-TB drug resistance testing is carried out in slow referral or satellite laboratories that rely on expensive devices for a small panel of drug resistance markers. The results are returned days, sometimes weeks later, providing the patient opportunity to pass on the infection within their community and making it difficult to manage pockets of emerging drug resistance. We believe that the only way to effectively manage and treat MDR-TB is to perform this testing at the patients’ side, allowing the healthcare system to immediately enrol the patient into a treatment program and to prescribe a targeted drug treatment. Our robust handheld device is ideal for use in field settings, and is responsive to the addition of hundreds, even thousands, of new markers of disease as these are discovered and validated thus providing a one-stop future proofed testing device meeting the testing needs of communities worldwide.”