What if you could walk into the pharmacy and get a self diagnostic test for conditions that currently require clinical laboratory testing? Or what if you could get a an instant test result at your GP's surgery for cardiac disease or breast cancer - without needing to wait for the results to be processed by a laboratory? Cambridge Consultants has launched the technology to enable this new generation of high sensitivity, rapid diagnostic tests. These tests can be easily self-administered in "near-patient" settings - undertaken in conjunction with patients' GPs, or at home for more straightforward conditions - and can actually detect a problem far earlier than current methods. The new technology platform combines a novel spectroscopy technique and an advanced electronic detector to deliver a highly sensitive diagnostic test that can be applied to detect a wide range of medical conditions.
Current self diagnostic tests, such as home pregnancy tests, do not demand the sensitivity requirements of some clinical tests because the "biomarker" they are trying to detect is present in significant amounts. However, Cambridge Consultants' technology takes advantage of "Time Resolved Fluorescence" (TRF), an innovative spectroscopy technique. Combined with a small electronic reader - another innovation from the company - the new platform delivers over four orders of magnitude improved sensitivity compared to existing tests, allowing a wide range of other biomarkers to be measured that are present in far smaller quantities. The new technology is accurate and low cost enough for tests that today take place only in a lab to be manufactured for near-patient use, or in solutions designed for the developing world.
"While there have been immense advances in surgical and pharmaceutical technology in recent years, near-patient or home diagnostics is still mainly limited to pregnancy and glucose testing," commented Simon Burnell, Head of Diagnostics at Cambridge Consultants. "Our TRF technology can now deliver the sensitivity required to satisfy the demand for earlier diagnosis and the detection of a wider range of biomarkers in a very simple to administer format. Moreover, the technology is in a position for a rapid transition to a consumer product meaning consumers could be seeing the first of the new generation of tests on shelves in 18 months' time."
Cambridge Consultants has already demonstrated the detection of a cardiac disease marker and is continuing to develop other tests. The company's medical device development process means that new tests for different conditions could be brought to market in 18 months time.