Rapid detection of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) & antibiotic sensitivity testing (AST)

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Beat the bugs - rapid detection of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)
Beat the bugs - rapid detection of antimicrobial resistance (AMR)

University: University of St Andrews

Sector(s): Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Chemical, Electronics, Sensors & Photonics, Food & Drink, Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences

About Opportunity:

Current methods for detecting antibiotic susceptibility profiles are too slow to influence antibiotic prescribing choices resulting in delayed treatment decisions often based on informed guesswork, leading to the well-documented overuse of antibiotics that encourages the rise of antibiotic resistance worldwide.

A range of laboratory methods are already available to help clinicians determine bacterial sensitivity to antibiotics and to identify the infecting organism. Current devices provide accurate results in the clinical laboratory setting, but the equipment is expensive to purchase, maintain and use, and results are typically only availably after 24 hours. Crucially the time to diagnosis is much longer than the rapid progression of the infective process and cannot inform correct antibiotic choice in a timely manner.

Our laboratory prototype devices are potentially considerably cheaper than existing clinical diagnostic systems and provide much faster accurate results. Our Orbital Diagnostics system is considerably faster (with a time to positivity of <30 mins against >450mins for the very best current systems) and potentially much less expensive than present systems. The device is simple, effective and does not require highly trained technical staff to operate. In its simplest form we believe the device could be used as a novel front-line medical device for clinical laboratories and potentially for doctors surgeries and point-of-care applications.

Our device is a novel combination of exisiting technologies adapted for a new purpose. It is potentially game-changing and we believe it could capture the support of clinicians, government and private funders of medical services, medical charities and the public, making the device the leading antibacterial diagnostic method of choice.

Against international competition the Orbital Diagnostics development team received a prestigious Longitude Prize Discovery Award in November 2016 to support the development of a point of care device. The BBC news item covering the technology is at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-38058636

Key Benefits:

  • Provides detection of bacterial growth that is:
  • Rapid
  • Sensitive
  • Accurate
  • Inexpensive
  • Simple
  • Effective


  • Antibiotic sensitivity testing - doctors surgery
  • Antibiotic sensitivity testing - clinical laboratory
  • Antibiotic sensitivity testing - point-of-care
  • Rapid detection of bacterial growth (< 30 min depending on the bacteria)
  • Detects low numbers of bacteria ( 10/ml)
  • Potential applications in detecting a range of other materials in suspension

IP Status:

The IP in the device is wholly-owned by the University and patents have been filed to cover the diagnostic test technology and methodology.

Externally funded development work is ongoing at the University of St Andrews and the IP is not encumbered through any R&D contract, nor joint or other 3rd party ownership.

The University and its researchers are looking for significant funding from strategic development partners and/or investors to develop the technology to market through a new company. Orbital Diagnostics Ltd (ODx) will target commercial, clinical and point of care antimicrobial resistance testing and other potential applications.

The team intend to develop the technology further through Orbital Diagnostics and have ambitious plans to submit a bid for the £10m Longitude Prize (https://longitudeprize.org). We would be happy to discuss our plans and exchange information with appropriate interested parties under a confidentiality agreement.


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