Year/Course: 2009-2010, Easter 2010
Mentor: Dr Marc Bax

Contacts: Dr Al Edwards & Dr Nuno Reis, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
Mentor: Marc Bax

Immunoassays are the most powerful and widely-used biochemical detection method. They are currently used to measure a vast number of different biomolecules for applications ranging from the detection of pathogens, drugs and diseases to environmental contaminants and biowarfare agents. While most immunoassays are performed individually, using standard 96-well plates, there are a range of new emerging technologies designed for multiplex immunoassays, which enable several biomarkers to be detected simultaneously.

Drs Edwards and Reis form part of a multi-disciplinary research team which has developed an innovative new method for multiplex immunoassays, allowing 8 or 12 protein analytes to be detected simultaneously in a single device. Unlike other methods, this approach has been designed so that no large infrastructure investment will be needed, and standard equipment can be used to measure the results. The method is expected to provide significant speed and cost advantages over other immunoassays.

The team are currently testing the efficacy of the new method on a range of biomarkers for cancer and infection, in comparison to existing technologies, and are working with the Institute for Manufacturing to develop prototype test kit designs. They are planning to set up a new spin-out company to market test kits which will include the required antibodies and assays for particular tests.

The i-Team will work with the inventors to recommend and specify the first commercial products based on the new diagnostic devices. This will include identifying current uses for multiplex immunoassays, as well as which reagents are needed and are easily available. The team will also need to investigate and recommend a best first market for the test kits, which may turn out to be for a high-value niche application, or a common low-cost widely-used test.