Oxford Gene Technology (OGT), St George’s University of London and St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust are pleased to announce the signing of a collaboration agreement to develop a cost-effective single platform microarray to diagnose multiple sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The collaboration between OGT and St George’s aims to develop a diagnostic test with the capacity to detect the DNA of many sexually transmitted pathogens in one specimen from infected people.
The microarray test aims for more comprehensive and accurate diagnoses with accurate same-day results. Ultimately, the array technology lends itself to the development of point-of-care testing for multiple STIs combined with the highest standards of accuracy. The STI diagnostic microarray is a timely investment in new gene technologies that directly address the emerging crisis of STIs in the UK, highlighted by the recent report of the Health Protection Agency (2006).
Dr Tariq Sadiq, Senior Lecturer and Consultant Genito Urinary Physician at St George’s, said on behalf of the University and NHS Trust “The incidence of STI continues to rise and is challenging our ability to provide care for our patients, directly costing the NHS in excess of £1 billion a year. As more responsibility for this care falls on settings such as GP practices, community based sexual health care providers and even high street pharmacies, concern exists for the need to maintain high standards of diagnostic accuracy while also recognising the increasing role of many infections not traditionally tested for. If successful, we think the microarray may be an important tool in the attempts to reduce the burden of STIs and their transmission”
Diagnostic DNA microarrays or ‘gene chips’ have been pioneered by the research team of Professor Philip Butcher, of St George’s, University of London, for bacterial and viral pathogen detection, exploiting expertise in bacterial microarrays built up by the Wellcome Trust funded B?G@S project (http://www.bugs.sgul.ac.uk).
In partnership with St George’s clinical and microbiology expertise, OGT will design and develop the high quality optimised 60mer oligonucleotide microarray using its ink jet in-situ synthesis (IJISS) platform and will also investigate the use of its Multi Sample Array (MSA) format enabling the parallel analysis of multiple samples. This will aim to reduce the cost per sample and provide a rapid diagnostic result.
Dr John Anson, Research and Development Director at OGT said: “OGT’s microarray technologies will provide a nucleic acid based tool which, coupled with PCR amplification, is aimed at producing a diagnostic test to improve the detection range, accuracy and the speed of STI diagnosis to meet clinician’s needs.”
The project will be jointly funded by the Heptagon Proof of Concept Fund and OGT and will last a year in the first instance. By then end of this period, the team hope to have a prototype which will then be validated using clinical samples.
To access a copy of the HPA report, “A complex picture: HIV & other sexually transmitted infections in the United Kingdom: 2006” http://www.hpa.org.uk/publications/2006/hiv_sti_2006/default.htm
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