A team led by scientists at the University of Leeds has developed a biosensor technology that uses antibodies to detect biomarkers - molecules in the human body which are often a marker for disease - much faster than current testing methods.
The technology could be used in doctors' surgeries for more accurate referral to consultants, and in hospitals for rapid diagnosis. Tests have shown that the biosensors can detect a wide range of analytes (substances being measured), including biomarkers present in prostate and ovarian cancer, stroke, multiple sclerosis, heart disease and fungal infections. The team also believes that the biosensors are versatile enough to test for diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV.
The technology was developed through a European collaboration of researchers and commercial partners in a 2.7 million Euro project called ELISHA.
ELISHA was co-ordinated by Dr Paul Millner from the Faculty of Biological Sciences at the University of Leeds, and managed by colleague Dr Tim Gibson. Says Dr Millner: "We believe this to be the next generation diagnostic testing. We can now detect almost any analyte faster, cheaper and more easily than the current accepted testing methodology."
Currently blood and urine are tested for disease markers using a method called ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunosorbant Assay). Developed in the 1970s, the process takes an average of two hours to complete, is costly and can only be performed by highly trained staff.
The Leeds team are confident their new technology - which provides results in 15 minutes or less - could be developed into a small device the size of a mobile phone into which different sensor chips could be inserted, depending on the disease being tested for.
"We've designed simple instrumentation to make the biosensors easy to use and understand," says Dr Millner. "They'll work in a format similar to the glucose biosensor testing kits that diabetics currently use."
Professor Séamus Higson, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Biosciences, Cranfield Health, and one of the partners within the ELISHA programme, says: "The speed of response this technology offers will be of great benefit to early diagnosis and treatment of many diseases, and will permit testing in de-localised environments such as GP's surgeries."
A spinout company - ELISHA Systems Ltd - has been set up by Dr Gibson, commercial partners Uniscan Instruments Ltd and Technology Translators Ltd to bring the technology to market.
Says Dr Gibson: "The analytes used in our research only scratch the surface of the potential applications. We've also shown that it can be used in environmental applications, for example to test for herbicides or pesticides in water and antibiotics in milk."
Jessica Kwok and Ronaldo Ichiyama, International Spinal Research Trust (Feb 2018), £94,450
Dave Lewis and Colleagues in South Africa, HEFCE Global Challenge Research (Jan 2018), £48,000
Sarah Calaghan, Ed White, John Colyer, Isuru Jayasinghe, BHF (Jan 2018), £128,308
Christine Foyer and Alison Baker, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £71,158
Alison Baker, Yun Yung Gong and Lindsay Stringer and ICRISAT India, HEFCE GCRF Grant (Jan 2018), £27,000
Graham Askew, Simon Walker, BBSRC (Jan 2018), £699,781
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society (Jan 2018), £512,801
Alison Dunn, NERC (Dec 2017), £18,000
Jennifer Tomlinson, Royal Society-Research Fellows Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £94,681
Helen Miller, AB AGri Grant (Dec 2017), £73,600
Simon Walker, Royal Society Enhancement Award (Dec 2017), £10,000
Carrie Ferguson, Bryan Taylor, Harry Rossiter, The Physiological Society (Dec 2017), £7,392
Ralf Richter, Royal Society (Dec 2017), £6,000
Christine Foyer, British Council Newton Fund (Dec 2017), £49,840
Adrian Whitehouse and colleagues in School of Chemistry and University of Liverpool, MRC (Nov 2017), £622,319
Michelle Peckham, Neil Ransom, MRC (Nov 2017), £495,159
Dave Lewis, British Council India (Nov 2017), £22,540
Hannah Dugdale, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Elton Zeqiraj, Royal Society (Nov 2017), £15,000
Shaunna Burke, Cancer Research UK Innovation Grant (Nov 2017), £20,000
Alex O'Neill and colleagues in Chemistry, BBSRC (Nov 2017), £431,865
Jessica Kwok, Wings for Life (Nov 2017), £87,365
Tom Bennett, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £523,679
Neil Ranson, Darren Tomlinson, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £494,318
Nikita Gamper, BBSRC (Oct 2017), £490,426
Amanda Bretman and colleagues from UEA, NERC (Oct 2017), £430,886
Juan Fontana, Rosetrees Trust consumables grant (Oct 2017), £22,500
Helen Miller, DSM Nutritional Products AG (Sep 2017), £69,988
Neil Ranson, Juan Fontana, Mark Harris, Michelle Peckham, Ralf Richter, Peter Stockley, Patricija Van Oosten-Hawle and colleagues in Engineering, FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Sep 2017), £418,000
Jamie Johnston, Physiological Society (Sep 2017), £10,000
Frank Sobott, Adrian Goldman, Mark Harris, Andrew Macdonald, Stephen Muench, Sheena Radford and colleagues in FMH and MAPS, Wellcome Trust Equipment Call (Aug 2017), £415,000
Ralf Richter, David Brockwell, Eric Hewitt, Jessica Kwok, Emanuele Paci and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £600,000
Eric Blair, Adrian Whitehouse, Nicola Stonehouse, Alison Baker, Richard Bayliss, Joan Boyes, Ryan Seipke, Sally Boxall and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £376,000
Stefan Kepinski, Yoselin Benitez-Alfonso, Tom Bennett, Michelle Peckham, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £331,000
Roman Tuma, Lars Jeuken, Paul Millner, Sheena Radford, Peter Stockley and MAPS/FMH, BBSRC (Jun 2017), £222,000
Vas Ponnambalam, Darren Tomlinson, Stephen Wheatcroft, BHF (May 2017), £107,878
Graham Askew in collaboration with Bangor University, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £477,383
Stephen Muench, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £132,945
Nic Stonehouse, MRC (Mar 2017), £906,341
Bill Kunin, Steve Sait, BBSRC (Mar 2017), £602,831
Adrian Goldman, EU (Mar 2017), £546,576
Sheena Radford, Wellcome Trust (Mar 2017), £1,836,482
Tom Bennett, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Jamie Johnston, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000
Beatrice Filippi, Royal Society (Mar 2017), £15,000