Sysmex Astrego awarded £10m Longitude Prize for point-of-care UTI test | World News - Hindustan Times
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Sysmex Astrego awarded £10m Longitude Prize for point-of-care UTI test

Jun 13, 2024 01:39 PM IST

Of the 10-million-pound Longitude Prize, £2 million was awarded to various innovators to refine their technology and the final winner receives £8 million

A high-tech, rapid point-of-care test for UTIs (Urinary Tract Infection), PA-100 AST System, developed by the Sweden-based in vitro diagnostic company, Sysmex Astrego has won the £10million Longitude Prize on Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) prize.

The winner, PA-100 AST System, is a high-tech, transformative, rapid, point-of-care test for UTIs. (@Challenge_Works | Officia X account)
The winner, PA-100 AST System, is a high-tech, transformative, rapid, point-of-care test for UTIs. (@Challenge_Works | Officia X account)

Of the 10-million-pound Longitude Prize, £2 million was awarded to various innovators to refine their technology and the final winner receives £8 million.

The winner, PA-100 AST System, is a high-tech, transformative, rapid, point-of-care test for UTIs that is seen as a game changer in the diagnostic sphere.

“Rational use of antibiotics—choosing the appropriate antibiotic for the correct patient at the optimal time—is fundamental in saving lives and combating the superbug crisis. Rapid diagnostics are poised to be crucial in this effort. The winner of the Longitude Prize is set to spearhead the list of emerging rapid diagnostic technologies in a transformative manner. The applications for the Longitude Prize bring hope, suggesting that through collective action, we can look forward to a future protected from the threats of antimicrobial resistance,” said Dr Abdul Ghafur, consultant in infectious diseases, Apollo Hospitals, Chennai, and a jury member of the prize.

Also Read: Battling the resistance: A Wknd interview with Dr Abdul Ghafur

Ghafur is also globally known for being the coordinator of “Chennai declaration” of medical societies to tackle AMR that found him a seat on the 20-member jury.

Antibiotic-resistant infections killed nearly 1.3 million people globally in 2019 and are on course to cause 10 million deaths a year by 2050, outnumbering deaths caused by cancer.

The global economy may lose up to $4 trillion by 2030 and up to $100 trillion by 2050 due to the AMR crisis, according to experts.

According to the organisers, Challenge Works, the goal is to replace the 2–3-day lab test process that doctors and patients must currently endure, and end “just in case” prescribing that is prevalent as a result, which promotes the development of antibiotic resistance.

The jury reviewed at least 250 applications over the years and short-listed 40 applications. Most advanced tests in medical practice today are PCR-based, but the prize winner has developed a transformative technology based on a phenotypic test.

This test identifies the bacteria causing urinary tract infections and performs antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) to determine the effective antibiotic for a specific patient in under 45 minutes.

The test uses a single-use cartridge, the size of a smart phone.

Less than half a milliliter of urine is added to this cartridge. Bacteria in the urine are trapped in over 10,000 microfluidic traps in parallel arrays and exposed to five different antibiotics at five different concentrations. The cartridge is inserted into a reader instrument, the size of a shoe box, where bacterial growth is monitored by phase-contrast imaging. The reader provides a report, “sensitive” or “resistant” for each antibiotic in 30-45 minutes.

The test can be performed in a doctors’ clinic rather than sending the urine sample to a laboratory.

If the new technology is used for a patient visiting a doctor with urinary infection symptoms, the doctor will know the result within 45 minutes including the antibiotic that will work. The test is transformative, accurate, and affordable for patients worldwide.

In a country like India, where millions of urinary tract infections are treated annually, most patients receive antibiotics on an empirical basis without sending urine samples for culture due to delays in getting culture results, which usually take three days. Hence, general practitioners often send cultures only if the patient doesn’t respond to the first empirical course. Such blind antibiotic prescriptions are a major reason for the antibiotic resistance crisis, especially in countries like India.

A transformative, rapid point of care diagnostic test that is accurate and affordable has the potential to revolutionise the urinary tract infection treatment India and worldwide.

According to Dr Ghafur, there were 38 Indian applicants, some with “amazing” innovations.

“These infections result in significant loss of lives, burden to the healthcare system, and socio-economic impact. In 20-30% of sepsis patients, the infection originates from the urinary tract. Up to two in five people who develop severe sepsis will lose their lives. Hence, rapid and accurate point-of-care tests for urinary tract infection can save millions of lives worldwide, especially in India,” he said.

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