A loan supported by the InnovFin-EU finance for innovators initiative under the EU's Horizon 2020 programme and extended by the European Investment Bank is helping Spanish start-up STAT-Dx develop automated molecular diagnostic tests. Such tests slash the time it takes to detect and treat serious gastrointestinal and respiratory infections in patients in emergency departments and intensive care units.
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When someone is admitted to hospital, doctors often have to treat them with antibiotics while awaiting the results of time-consuming tests, with even the most advanced microbiology culture taking several days to get results. Patients therefore stay in hospital longer than necessary and receive ineffective treatment, which increases the risk of antibiotic resistance a major problem highlighted by the World Health Organization and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By giving a clear diagnosis, molecular diagnostic tests make it possible to treat the exact cause of an illness quickly. This prevents unnecessary antibiotic use, lengthy and costly hospital stays, excessive medical procedures, redundant doctors visits, prolonged illness and deaths.
Based in Barcelona, STAT-Dx started out with a small team but grew quickly, partly thanks to the Horizon 2020 backing. Its DiagCORE platform allows molecular diagnostic tests to be performed in about an hour, compared with 4-6 hours using other methods.
DiagCORE offers on-demand testing, which means the instrument is ready whenever and wherever a test needs to be run, says company co-founder Jordi Carrera. With other methods, samples are often batched before testing and laboratories might be closed when the test result becomes available. This further delays the results needed to make critical clinical decisions.
Carrera also stresses the simplicity and safety of the system. DiagCORE can work with most specimens without extensive offline preparation, he says. Our cartridge has embedded sample preparation capabilities. That simplifies and increases the security of the work of laboratory technicians and enables the platform to be directly installed in the clinical wards. They dont need to use harmful chemicals, sharps or be unnecessarily exposed to infectious materials. It also enables less skilled people to use the system in point-of-care settings..