Apr. 12, 2013 Turku-based Abacus Diagnostica has developed GenomEra CDX™, a system for hospitals and health care services that uses DNA technology to diagnose infectious diseases.
"Hospital-acquired infections, or so-called hospital bugs, increase the morbidity and mortality rates in patients of various health care units. Our fast and easy-to-use platform reliably identifies bacteria causing hospital infections, including MRSA," explains Tom Palenius, CEO of Abacus Diagnostica.
The system relies on technology developed in the University of Turku and consists of an automatic analyser and tests that can be run on it. Introducing this simple platform requires no additional training in health care units.
"Diagnosis takes place faster than with conventional cultivation-based methods, in which the clinician may be left waiting for two or three days for the test results. Using our testing platform, a laboratory assistant can do the test in less than ten minutes, and the final results will be available within an hour."
The company's product range includes four SA/MRSA tests and a test for C.difficile, which causes antibiotic-associated diarrhea, with clinical sensitivities of up to 98-99%.
"Sensitive tests allow us to diagnose hospital bugs earlier and to prevent their spreading in the hospital environment. The cost of keeping a patient in hospital for 24 hours is around EUR 1,000, and fast and accurate diagnostics thus brings considerable savings."
Growth from new products
Supported by Tekes funding, Abacus is about to develop new tests for bacteria that are critical for patients. The first to come out will be a test for streptococcus infections in the first quarter of 2013.
"Within two years, we will launch at least five new tests related to the treatment of critical infections. The expanding selection of tests will help customers make buying decisions and facilitate the system's introduction in routine use. From our perspective, it will further accelerate the growth of sales that are already off to a good start."
There is a clear demand in the market for easy-to-use products and increasingly versatile tests.
"New bacterial strains are evolving into antibiotic-resistant forms. Those bacteria and viruses for which tests already exist keep modifying genetically. In the future, our goal will be to develop testing methods that will also identify the modified forms."
Sights on Europe and the United States
In the field of clinical diagnostics, the market for DNA-based testing methods and the diagnostics of infectious diseases in particular is growing rapidly, or at the rate of 15-20%. The global market for diagnosing a single bacterial strain amounts to some EUR 100-200 million.
"We are also hoping to expand outside Europe, for example to the US and Russian markets. In the United States, DNA-based technologies are becoming popular in the diagnostics of infectious diseases. In Russia, product registration processes are extremely drawn out, and we thus have to prepare our expansion into that country ahead of time."
This growth will set challenges to Abacus in a few years' time, making new investments in personnel resources for product development and production activities necessary. Palenius feels that Tekes has played a key role in Abacus' successful development.
"Tekes provided funding to support the development of Abacus' basic technology, which was originally intended for food safety testing, our change of direction towards clinical testing and now also the expansion of our product portfolio. It is great that Tekes has an understanding of the long-term process of commercialisation and has been able to support us in our multiple phases of development."
Abacus Diagnostica was the winner of the international European Venture Contest in 2012 in the Life Science category with their diagnostic system for hospital infections.
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The above story is based on materials provided by Tekes, the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, via AlphaGalileo.
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