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Newcastle medical company teams up with US firm to develop ‘ground-breaking’ sepsis test

A Newcastle medical diagnostics developer has announced a new collaborative project which aims to reduce deaths from sepsis around the world.

QuatuMDx Group Limited, based in Newcastle city centre, is working with US firm Ontera Inc to develop a ground-breaking diagnostic solution that would aid medics in the early diagnosis of sepsis and drug resistance detection.

The two companies will share their knowledge and technologies to create tools that will improve blood testing, allowing medics to test for signs of sepsis and work out appropriate treatments in the crucial early stages of the disease.

Over 30 million people suffer from sepsis each year, and it causes an estimated 6 million deaths worldwide.

Time is of the essence when treating the disease, and if it is not recognised early and treated quickly with targeted antibiotics, it can lead to septic shock, multiple organ failure, and death.

Chief scientific officer at QuantuMDx, Jonathan O’Halloran, said: “Sepsis is one of the hardest diseases to detect.

“It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack, due to the low concentration of organisms in the blood stream that cause disease.

“Our early prototype testing has already shown sensitivity in the range required for this kind of test and performed in minutes from spiked bacteria in whole blood.

“We haven’t even pushed the technology yet, but it has the potential to become a paradigm-shifting, powerful device.

“And, by including drug resistance in the assay to enable right first time prescribing, the impact of this partnership could be profound.”

News of the collaboration comes shortly after QuatuMDx Group announced it was working on a project with Australian firm SpeeDx and the Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics to create low cost tests for sexually transmitted diseases.

The company also raised $12 million last year in a new funding round to help commercialise its research and has also won funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of its Q-POC device, which helps diagnose tuberculosis in the developing world.

Murielle Thinard McLane, CEO of Ontera Inc, added: “Today, 30 per cent of patients receive inappropriate antimicrobial therapy.

“By not only identifying sepsis but also resistance to most common antibiotics in less than 30 minutes, we will transform the sepsis landscape and impact lives.

“We have set out on a mission to democratise access to molecular information to create a more sustainable planet.

“This collaboration with QuantuMDx is a major proof point along that mission.”