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University spin-out brings personalised medicine approach to use of antibiotics

30 Apr 2014

Spectromics Limited will develop novel technology to help guide the effective use of antibiotics and other antimicrobial therapeutics

The formation of Spectromics is the result of three years of research by Professor Roy Goodacre of the Institute of Biotechnology and School of Chemistry at The University of Manchester, and Dr Mathew Upton, School of Biomedical and Healthcare Sciences, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, formerly at the School of Inflammation and Repair at The University of Manchester. Both are Directors of the company.

The technology, relating to rapid diagnostics for antimicrobial susceptibility testing, will allow doctors to determine the most effective drug to be prescribed for each patient, bringing a personalised medicine approach to the widespread use of antibiotics.

Growing resistance to antimicrobials is a global threat to the successful treatment of bacterial infections. This is a problem that is recognised by all of the major nations; the UK Chief Medical Officer stated that it is one of the three biggest threats to human health and it featured at last year’s G8 conference as a threat ranked alongside terrorism. Resistance to antibiotics is exacerbated by the current practice of issuing “best guess” prescriptions without knowing whether the patient actually has a bacterial infection, and whether that particular infection may be resistant to the drug being prescribed.

To run tests today to determine whether a drug is required and which is most effective takes days in a microbiology lab. The Spectromics technology will allow a doctor to run a 10 minute test which will indicate if an antibiotic is required, and if so, which one. The test will comprise of a small instrument and a cartridge into which the sample is added.

Over the next three years Spectromics will develop the commercial system for the first application. This will be for urinary tract infection which is the most prevalent bacterial infection affecting human health. Following this, other test specific cartridges for other clinical applications will follow.

Neil Butler, CEO of Spectromics commented: “I have been the CEO from formation of two other companies in the past, Vivacta and Oxford Biosensors, and worked in Point-of-Care diagnostics for fifteen years. What really excites me about Spectromics is the compelling need for a diagnostic that guides antibiotic treatment at the point-of-prescription. This technology is very differentiated as nothing else comes close to our test turnaround time. We are planning to raise significant investment, so that we can build the organisation rapidly, which in turn will bring the commercial system to market ASAP. This product was needed yesterday and we are going to make this technology the answer to the global call for a solution to antimicrobial stewardship.”

Stephen France of UMIP, the University of Manchester’s agent for Intellectual Property commercialisation, added: “The lack of new antibiotics, that has caused a 30 year discovery void, is alarming as our established drugs have a growing resistance making them ineffective in treating infections. The worry is that what have in the past been easily treated bacterial infections could in future be untreatable and life threatening. There are solutions to this problem: new antibiotics, and better stewardship of the ones we have, and we believe that both solutions are required for an effective remedy of the problem. When we saw the speed of this technology we knew it was a winner and this why we didn’t hesitate to build a business to exploit it fully.”

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