School of Computing


Exploiting the translational potential of bioinformatics driven diagnostics development

A major problem in the development of new medical diagnostic systems for infectious disease is the development of a suitable affinity reagent, such as an antibody, that binds specifically to the target organism. The process of finding these reagents for new emerging threats can take months or even years. A novel bioinformatics cloud computing-based system has been developed as an output of the projects listed above (termed IDRIS). The IDRIS pipeline is able to predict physiological biomarkers for a given group of organisms from genome sequence data. These biomarkers can be used to generate novel diagnostic reagents. In the projects above we have both developed the pipeline and showed how it can be applied to predict biomarkers for two major bacterial pathogens: Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile. We also showed how these biomarkers could be used to produce antibodies that were, in turn, used to develop point of care diagnostic devices.

Over the past year we have worked with the Research and Enterprise Team to explore the potential of this system. RES have already linked us up with two commercial partners who are keen to exploit our system (see below). This project will further evaluate and hone the system developed in the EPSRC projects, producing further demonstration systems and increasing the IP of the project. Specifically, we have been advised by commercial consultants (arranged by RES) that whilst the translational potential of the system is good, two further objectives need to be met in order to lay the groundwork to establish a commercialisation route, licensing or spinout, at the end of 2016; (i) An enhanced market survey and landscaping exercise (ii) A demonstration of the system being used to develop diagnostics for the Gram-negative class of bacteria. The project will build on the work of EPSRC projects to deliver these two outcomes in order to maximise the success of the subsequent commercialisation route.