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Rapid Isolation of Bacteria or Specific Target Cells

ProKyma Technologies Ltd, specialists in automated sample processing techniques, has won the Innovation in Diagnostics Project of the Year at the Northwest Biomedical Awards. Presented by ThermoFisher, the award recognises the potential of the companys technology for the rapid isolation of bacteria or specific target cells in situations where there are high levels of debris such as sputum and blood. Ongoing developments for the technology include the rapid detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) in sputum samples and the capture of Circulating Tumour Cells (CTC) in blood applications that could have an enormous impact in the diagnosis and management of these global killers.

The patented KymaSep system utilises a combination of magnetic and ultrasound forces (acousto-magnetic) to control magnetic beads in a flow-through chamber. The beads, which are coated to make them highly specific for the target bacteria or cells, can be captured and held on the side of the chamber during aggressive washing and then automatically resuspended and collected. The cells survive the process intact allowing them to be used for further analysis including microscopy and culture. Unaffected by background cells or debris, acousto-magnetic separation is suitable for a wide range of applications that have proved too challenging for traditional rapid methods, particularly those where target cells or bacteria are present in very low numbers. By processing much larger volumes than other techniques, KymaSep captures sufficient cells to produce highly concentrated samples.

There are 8.9 million new active cases of TB annually with nearly 2 million deaths, making rapid diagnosis a priority for healthcare providers around the world. ProKyma plans to develop a rapid detection test that can be used at the point of care. CTC analysis is rapidly emerging as an important tool for detecting certain cancers and monitoring response to chemotherapy. Conventional detection is complex and expensive and ProKymas technology will simplify testing and make it more accessible.

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