British biophysics company Avacta has commercially launched a point-of-care diagnostic instrument that can produce blood test results within 15 minutes to an hour.
Alastair Smith, chief executive of Avacta, said the company is initially selling the product − dubbed AX-1 − through its Avacta Animal Health division in the UK and European veterinarian market, with a view to making the instrument available for GPs within three years.
The bench-top instrument detects disease biomarkers in blood samples using a disposable test cartridge that is pre-loaded with specific reagents designed to create chemical reactions if they meet target biomarkers.
Once the blood sample is loaded, the system runs fully automated.
The AX-1, which costs around £3,000, incorporates an immunoassay ELISA test with a combination of chemiluminescence readout with photomultiplier detection.
Smith pointed out that the veterinary diagnostics market is worth at least $1.5bn (£1bn) worldwide, but the human point-of-care testing market is considerably larger at approximately $16bn. The human diagnostic market, he said, presents much greater regulatory hurdles.
Avacta is in the process of identifying potential commercial partners who currently own human diagnostics tests with regulatory approval. Smith said that these partners may be looking to put those tests onto a point-of-care platform instead of their current delivery methods.
On many occasions blood samples are sent to central testing laboratories, meaning it can be days before veterinarians and GPs see the results.
Smith said rapid testing systems such as the AX-1 could play a significant role in stopping the spread of hospital-borne infections or highly infectious viruses such as SARS or the H1N1.
Assuming a commercial partner is found soon, Smith said the product could be ready for human diagnostics by 2013.