Year/Course: 2013-2014, Easter 2014

Contacts: Dr. Aron Rachamim & Dr Sai Giridhar Shivareddy, Engineering & Orphidia
Mentor: Dr. Karin Schmitt

A team of researchers from the department of Engineering have developed and patented a new idea in medical diagnostics, which could revolutionise the time to market for new biomarker diagnostic tests.

Currently new diagnostic tests are developed in the lab by linking specific protein biomarkers with the presence of diseases, predicted responses to drugs, and other health-related indications. Once the hurdle of showing the link with the disease or drug response has been crossed, these companies then need to find a way to get their test into the hands of patients or their doctors. Typically they need to find a company that makes a suitable microfluidic chip, and then modify their test to work properly on that chip, so that a complete diagnostic test device can be manufactured.

Orphidia has developed and patented a design based on standardised repeatable miniature on-chip components which will work with a wide range of biomarkers. Each component measures a single biomarker, but the system as a whole can scalably measure as many different biomarkers as needed. The system is build from standard components, allowing it to be easily customised for the needs of a particular test by adding or removing the component “building blocks”.

The question for the i-Team is to provide objective evidence for the market need for this type of product. What approaches do biomarker companies and researchers currently use, and would the Orphidia solution help them to increase the clinical uptake of their diagnostic tests?