Human and animal biodiagnostics are a core MiCRA theme, with work in this area pre-dating the establishment of the Gateway. Novel prototype biosensors for bio-diagnostic applications have been developed for a range of human and bovine/equine diseases – parasitic (liver fluke/stomach worm), fertility testing (human, bovine), inflammation biomarkers, allergy testing (peanut and gluten proteins) deficiencies (PKU), enzyme activities, infectious diseases (HSV). Immunoassay platforms include electronic ELISA for out of lab applications – antibody, antigen and microbial cell formats (sandwich and competitive).

Rationale

Ireland is a hotbed for diagnostic medical device companies of all sizes; from start-up to SME to multinational. According to the Irish Medtech Association, Ireland is one of the largest exporters of medical products in Europe with annual exports over €12 billion. 18 of the world’s top 25 medical technology companies have a base in Ireland and 50% of the 450 Medtech companies based here are indigenous. Increasing adoption of personalised medicine and technological advancements are major drivers for the global biochips market ($7.15 billion in 2016 – growing at a CAGR of 21.80%, to reach $19.17 billion by 2021).

The importance of animal diagnostics has grown rapidly in recent years and covers areas from mastitis diagnosis in cattle (relating to general health and milk quality) and equine blood monitoring (rapid fitness assessment). The lab-on-a-chip market includes IVD & POC clinical diagnostics, and other applications (biodefense, food pathogen identification, and environmental contamination). The biosensor market is expected to be valued at $27.06 billion by 2022, growing at a CAGR of 8.84% between 2017 and 2022, driven by the continuous technological advancements in the biosensor ecosystem, increases in nonmedical applications, lucrative growth in POC diagnostics, and rise in the demand for glucose monitoring systems. The electrochemical techniques pioneered at MiCRA are a perfect fit for portable, hand-held point-of-care devices (both medical and veterinary) and use of in-house fabrication techniques (screen printing, laser cutting) allows for rapid development of new diagnostic techniques.

Opportunities

This is a rapidly evolving sector and companies are keen to adopt new technologies
The core technologies of microfluidics and ELISA are well understood and can be rapidly adapted to facilitate new diagnostic methods.
Existing ELISA formats and associated reagents may be transferred to portable immunosensor formats suitable for bed-side/pen-side application.