SAW Dx, Medical Diagnostics Anywhere.
SAW Diagnostics Limited is an emerging biological sample analysis and point of care diagnostic venture focused on exploiting Acoustic-Flow technology based on the use of surface acoustic waves technology developed in the laboratory of Professor Jon Cooper, University of Glasgow.
The Acoustic-Flow technology utilises the interaction of Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW) with a patient sample to drive a diagnostic test. The interactions are controlled by microstructures patterned on the surface of disposable chips, to shape sound in particular ways in a frequency dependant manner. Functions possible include fluid movement, mixing, particle patterning, enrichment, opening cells to release DNA and temperature cycling of a sample. Acoustic-Flow technology means that samples can be processed on-chip (no preprocessing required) and complex microfluidics are avoided.
The SAW Dx business model is based on providing product and technology solutions to life sciences and diagnostics companies seeking to enhance their diagnostic product offerings through innovative point of care use.
12th February 2019. SAW Dx announces that InnovateUK, the UK’s Innovation Agency, has awarded the company £1.5M over 2 years to support development of SAW’s novel sample preparation technology. The total funding includes the customary 30% match from SAW and its investors.
1st February 2018. SAW Dx appoints Dr. Iain Miller as Chief Executive Officer.
Dr. Miller brings an extensive background in the diagnostics industry and will lead the SAW Dx team as they develop an innovative portfolio of near-patient test solutions.
1st March 2017. SAW Dx secures £1.85m funding boost to develop STI diagnostic POC prototype
Full press release.
SAW Dx, a medical technology spinout founded at the University of Glasgow , has successfully closed an investment round of £750k with IP Group, a developer of intellectual property-based businesses, and the Scottish Investment Bank, the investment arm of Scottish Enterprise.
The funding agreement comes just weeks after SAW Dx also secured £1.1m in support from the UK Government’s Biomedical Catalyst fund. This £1.85m injection of capital will help secure its route to the market for new products in infectious disease diagnostics.
SAWDx technology affords two broad opportunities for partnering with corporate life science companies; licensing of its developmental standalone sample-prep technology and licensing of its integrated end to end diagnostic detection technology
- Incorporation into existing or developmental PoC detection devices in the diagnostic market. SAW technology enables diagnostic licensees to upgrade product capabilities and access new markets
- Direct application of the SAW Dx complete workflow system in clinical markets where rapid diagnostics is critical (e.g. hospital acquired infections).
Board and Founders
Prof Jon Cooper – Director & Academic Founder;. Vice Principal for Knowledge Exchange in the University of Glasgow. Jon holds the Wolfson Chair in Biomedical Engineering; Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering; Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. ERC Advanced Investigator. Spin-out companies include Clyde Biosciences.
Prof Steve Beaumont, OBE, Director, GU Holdings Limited – Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh; Fellow of Royal Academy of Engineering; Vice Principal Emeritus; Director QUANTIC, the UK Quantum Imaging Hub; PI CENSIS, the Sensors & Imaging Systems Innovation Centre; University of Glasgow University of Glasgow
Steve Beaumont is a Chartered Engineer (CEng). He has significant experience in developing spin-out companies. Steve represents the University’s interests on the Board through its subsidiary GU Holdings Limited.
Dr. Julien Reboud – founder is a Lecturer in the division of Biomedical Engineering at the Glasgow University (UK). He is a co-inventor of the acoustic technology, for which he was awarded The Royal Academy of Engineering ERA Foundation Entrepreneurs prize (2013).
Dr. Iain Miller – Board Member and CEO.
Dr. Iain Miller has extensive international experience in the precision medicine and diagnostics community, having split his career between the US, where he worked for 20 years, and the UK. In 2013 he founded Healthcare Strategies Group, an advisory services group serving the precision medicine community. Previously, he was Global Head, Precision Healthcare Strategy & Partnerships at GE Medical Diagnostics, and Executive Director of Personalized Medicine Strategy at IVD leader Biomerieux. In addition to GE and Biomerieux, his experience base spans J&J, Philips, Myriad Genetics, Oxford Immnotec and Abbott Diagnostics, in addition to a number of US-based venture-backed diagnostic SMEs. Iain served until 2017 on NICE Technology Appraisal Committee C and was a founding Board member in 2009 of the European Personalised Medicine Association.
Dominika Nowak is a Physicist and currently holds an R&D Engineer position at SAW Dx. She received her PhD degree in Surface Physics from the University of Leeds in 2010, studying the behaviour of matter in confinement. She also holds an MSc in Chemistry from the Technical University of Lodz in Poland. She worked as a Research Assistant and Postdoctoral Research Associate at School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, the University of Leeds on development of label-free, electrochemical biosensors for clinical diagnostics. Previously she worked at LifeScan Scotland (J&J) as a R&D Scientist in the diabetic strip platform group improving product performance.
Kris Zak brings a varied background in research and assay development to SAW. After graduating in Biochemisry from the University of Bath, he researched the pathogenicity of infectious diseases at the Department of Medical Microbiology in Southampton. He then went on to work at Unipath Ltd, on the development of rapid assays for the detection of Sexually Transmitted Diseases. He has successfully lead a number of projects from concept to market, as well as maintaining interests with research. He is a guest lecturer in rapid assay development at Cranfield, Bath & Leeds Universities.
Dr Stephen Carmichael, who is responsible for assay development at SAW, has 18 years’ experience in the life sciences sector, particularly in the field of genetics and functional genomics. This experience base includes the development of custom oligonucleotide microarrays for the study of commercially important farm animal species at the University of Stirling and the Roslin Institute. Stephen’s experience also includes commercial development of lateral flow point of care devices and contract biopharmaceutical GLP testing.
The technology utilises the interaction of Surface Acoustic Waves (SAW) with a patient sample to extract and purify DNA and thereby enable diagnostic testing at the point of care. The interactions are controlled by microstructures patterned on the surface of disposable chips, to shape sound in particular ways in a frequency dependant manner. Demonstrated functions include fluid movement, mixing, particle patterning, enrichment, opening cells to release DNA and temperature cycling of a sample. Acoustic-Flow technology means that samples can be processed on the chip surface, avoiding complex 3-D micro-fluidic structures.
Potential Benefits include:
- Rapid results (<less than 30 minutes for nucleic acid tests)
- Limited pre-processing of samples
- Cost effectiveness
#1: Sexually Transmitted Infections: Chlamydia and Gonorrhoea (CT/NG)
Each year there are more than 200 million new diagnoses of CT and NG worldwide, according to the WHO. Current solutions are primarily based in the central lab setting, with lengthy turnaround times during which time patients are frequently lost to treatment and/or are treated with broad spectrum empirical antibiotic approaches. The latter approach contributes in turn to the growing problem of antibiotic resistance, recognized by the World Health Organization to be one of the major threats to global health today. There is a major unmet need for identification of infected patients in the near-patient setting, allowing providers to quickly provide personalized treatment to the patient. SAW Dx is working under a major InnovateUK Biocatalyst award to develop a cost effective test capable of identifying CT and/or GC with high accuracy within 30 minutes.
#2: Respiratory Tract Infections
SAW has recently received a major InnovateUK grant to support its development of a low-cost automated nucleic acid sample preparation system for diverse applications. One area of early focus for this work is the development of sample prep protocols and rapid tests for flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and strep A, which collectively affect 750 million people each year and are associated with expensive in-patient isolation for vulnerable patients (flu) and/or severe over-prescription of antibiotics (Strep A).
#3: Hospital Acquired Infections
SAW Dx technology has the potential to enhance antimicrobial stewardship, thereby reducing the emergence of drug-resistant strains which kill 700,000 patients/year in developed markets. The company’s foundational sample preparation platform will enable immediate identification of diverse causative pathogens.
Proof of Concept Studies
#1: Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) with the NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
A point of care ‘board and wires’ prototype for use in rapid diagnosis of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI’s) specifically syphilis and HSV (types 1&2) from the same patient sample has been constructed and tested, with funding from an ERC advanced fellowship. The assays are proprietary to the NHS and SAW Dx is providing the technology platform. The next step is to perform a proof-of-concept study (first-in-man) to demonstrate competitive advantages.
Current lab tests require the patient to return to the clinic days later, leading just over one third of people not returning in the UK, who have to be followed up. The SAW Dx platform enables to break the cycle of infection by allowing treatment before people leave the clinic and do not return.
#2: Tuberculosis (funded by Innovate UK) in collaboration with EPIGEM Ltd, and clinical partners at Edinburgh, Southampton, and University College London.
Development of a point of care demonstrator reader and disposable cartridge for use with existing diagnostic assays for tuberculosis (including latent TB). Latent TB (when the patient is infected but without symptoms) is particularly hard to detect and with 10% of these patients going on to develop full TB then new detection methods are required.
#3: Developing World Diagnostics
Infectious diseases continue to decimate human (and animal) health in many parts of the world. Malaria afflicts nearly 300 million people each year, killing over 0.6 million, mainly children. Other diseases such as the trypanosomiases (African and American) and leishmaniases affect many millions the world over and helminth infections run into the billions. In many instances methods exist to manage diseases caused by these infections. However, in order to implement suitable control strategies, it is necessary to first make accurate and sensitive diagnosis of the disease.
The SAW Dx team, in partnership with parasitologists at the University of Glasgow, has built a low power (battery-operated) plaform, to enrich parasites and perform cell lysis and molecular detection, on low-cost disposable chips.
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