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New Biosensor for Rapid Diagnosis of Infectious Diseases Debuts at MEDICA

UK-based OJ Bio will be at MEDICA 2012 for the first time (Hall 1, F11) to showcase a new mobile phone enabled biosensor for the rapid diagnosis of infectious diseases like flu.

The state-of-the-art technology combines specialist bio-sensor materials with advanced electronics in a small hand held device for the accurate detection of illnesses from patient supplied samples.

Importantly, the device can be used at the patient's bed side or other point of care, such as a GP surgery or pharmacy, with the results being available within minutes and without samples being sent for laboratory analysis.

The quick diagnosis of diseases moved a step closer after the biosensor company secured government funding for further development work into its innovative new technology.

For the last three years OJ-Bio has worked with the UK's Health Protection Agency (HPA) to develop and test the new biosensor device. This has proven its ability to successfully detect three potent respiratory viruses much more quickly than current methods.

Included are the Influenza A and B viruses, common flu strains previously linked to some major epidemics, and Respiratory Synctyial Virus (RSV), a major cause of coughs and chest infections.

OJ-Bio has secured funds from the Biomedical Catalyst programme towards its Pounds1 million-plus project to develop the device and sees MEDICA, where it will be demonstrating a working model attached to an android phone, as an important platform to launch to international customers.

Dale Athey, chief executive of Newcastle upon Tyne-based OJ-Bio, said: "Early diagnosis is vital in the treatment of diseases for millions of people. Drugs are only effective in the first few days after symptoms appear and current tests which involve laboratory analysis of samples simply aren't fast enough.

"Our new device provides a low cost test that dramatically improves the speed of diagnosis and treatment that should hit the disease at source and limit its ability to spread."

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, with the results being displayed on a complementary hand held reading device such as a mobile phone. JRC's expertise in wireless technology also means that the detection devices can be wireless enabled allowing connectivity to healthcare networks.

OJ-Bio will now embark on a programme that will involve new product design work and multi channel biochip development, alongside further investigation into the results reader and associated software needs.

This work will involve extensive input from doctors, nurses and other healthcare staff and will result in the development of a fully working device that can be used in extensive clinical trials.

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