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Four Groups Get Longitude Funds for Point-of-Care Tests

The Longitude Prize has named the latest winners of funding for the development of point-of-care diagnostic tests that will conserve antibiotics.

The United Kingdom–based seed funding program, launched in 2014 to address the problem of antibiotic overuse and resistance, announced this week that four teams from India won the third round of Discovery Award funding, with each team receiving awards from £10,000 to £25,000 ($13,355 to $33,388) to work toward prototype development and validation of their tests. The Longitude Prize has now awarded funding to 29 different teams from around the world.

Three teams focus on sepsis

Three of the newly awarded teams are developing tests that could help reduce morbidity and mortality due to sepsis, a condition that occurs when the body's reaction to infection triggers an inflammatory response throughout the body. IDI Group is developing an ultrasensitive magnetic biosensor to rapidly detect and identify endotoxins in the blood, an innovation that could help clinicians treat sepsis in its early stages and choose the right antibiotic therapy.

NanoDX Healthcare is evaluating Septiflo, a low-cost, disposable kit that can detect bacteria in a drop of blood in under 10 minutes and stratify patients based on whether the bacterial infection is caused by a gram-negative or a gram-positive pathogen. The company says the device is intended for use in rural and urban settings and doesn't require trained physicians or a microbiology laboratory.

SpotSense is conducting validation of a non-invasive, sputum-based test for diagnosing neonatal sepsis, which accounts for nearly a quarter of all newborn deaths in India. The device tests for levels of sepsis biomarkers in neonatal saliva and then uses an algorithm to calculate a sepsis score. The team says the device can also be used to evaluate severity and guide antibiotic therapy and can be utilized by nurses or midwives without the need of a pathology lab.

Companion AST, or cAST, is developing a new imaging device to perform rapid point-of-care diagnosis of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in urinary tract infections. The low-cost imaging tool generates antibiotic susceptibility reports directly from urine samples.

Discovery Award funding is intended to help researchers develop their ideas and compete for the Longitude Prize, which will be awarded to the team that can develop a transformative point-of-care test that will improve antibiotic treatment decisions—and help conserve antibiotics—by either ruling out unnecessary antibiotic use or identifying the most effective antibiotic. The test needs to be accurate, affordable, rapid, easy-to-use in all global healthcare settings, and ready for clinical performance trials.

Winners of the Longitude Prize will receive £8 million ($10.7 million).

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