A revolution in detecting bacteria and viruses is under way. Poland is developing a special system for the rapid analysis of biological material.

2018-06-11  |  05:00

Work on the PCR/ONE system is to be completed by 2020 to ensure the fastest detection of bacteria and viruses in the world. The system will be able to carry out an automatic analysis of the genetic material obtained from bacterial and viral pathogens. It will aim in particular at detecting Staphylococcus aureus, which causes, among other things, pneumonia, myocarditis, meningitis and phlebitis.

“The PCR/ONE is the fastest system in the world when it comes to detecting infections, and is able to carry out many gene detection reactions at the same time. Thanks to this we will be able to provide very comprehensive responses in a very short time. Detection takes place with the use of a PCR reaction, which consists of separating a two-stranded DNA helix within temperature cycles by heating the sample, and subsequently binding a special key, which in biochemistry is called a primer, to single strands, and the key recognising the gene. If the gene we are looking for, for instance of Staphylococcus aureus, is present in the sample, an attempt to bind our key is made, and if the binding takes place, the DNA helix is duplicated,” said Piotr Garstecki, President of Scope Fluidics, in an interview for the Newseria Innowacje news agency.

Staphylococcus aureus displays a high level of resistance to antibiotics. In extreme cases infection with the bacteria may result in sepsis and endocarditis, which is characterised by a very high 50 percent mortality rate. This is why the key aspect in treating and, first of all, preventing infections is to detect them as quickly as possible.

“The technological sector is struggling not only to find a way to carry out the PCR reaction as rapidly as practicable but also to automate the entire sample preparation process. When we collect a swab from the nose, which is where Staphylococcus may be found, we cannot carry out a PCR reaction right away; first we need to break open its cells and purify the genetic material. This can be performed in several chemical reactions which need to be integrated in a single plastic cartridge. This is a much-needed process which only a few companies in the world have managed to achieve. All hospitals should have access to such equipment to be able to immediately identify potential threats and respond to them in a comprehensive way,” the expert argued.

The PCR method was developed in 1983, and 10 years later Kary Mullis from the Californian company Cetus received a Nobel Prize for it. Currently a few companies from around the globe are working on developing the technology. The Polish company Scope Fluidics has been developing the method for six years.

“We have 2 years left. Currently we’re entering the phase of introducing the solution into production, which will end in the 2nd half of the next year, to be followed by certification and marketing approvals. At the same time, we will carry out talks to sell the system to a global diagnostics operator,” Piotr Garstecki announced.

According to the data published by PR Newswire, the global market of medical technology and equipment by 2022 will have grown by 674.5 bn dollars from 521 bn in 2017. The average annual growth rate will be 5.3 percent.

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