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|Prototype meningococcal testing device developed by Quintain NS|
Australian nanotechnology firm NanoVentures Australia (NVA) has reached agreement with New Zealand biotechnology firm Trinity Diagnostics for joint development of its proprietary technology for rapid detection of meningococcal disease.
The Agreement, signed on 27th April 2009, provides Trinity Diagnostics with an exclusive license to the technology, and commits Trinity to invest in the laboratory verification of the diagnostic system. If this phase is successful, the parties will enter into a full development agreement funded by Trinity and its investors. It is anticipated that the pre-clinical program will take around two years.
Trinity Diagnostics is a subsidiary of Trinity Bioactives Limited. Trinity Bioactives was formed in 2008 and purchased Bioactivity Investigation Group (BIG) of the Otago University Medical School on the Wellington School of Medicine Campus. BIG was formed in 1994, and has delivered a range of diagnostic services serving a client base across New Zealand and Australia stretching to Japan, Korea and the USA. Trinity's key staff have worked in biotechnology developments for 30 years or more.
Trinity Diagnostics has been set up specifically to leverage the core in vitro capabilities of Trinity Bioactives for entry into the molecular and immunoassay diagnostic markets. NVA and Trinity have agreed to work together to develop and commercialise rapid diagnostic solutions for infectious diseases commencing with the rapid detection of meningococcal disease.
Meningococcal disease affects over 800 people in Australia and New Zealand each year. The fatality rate for those infected with Meningococcal disease is close to 10%, with death often occurring within 12 hours, and around 20% of those infected will have permanent disabilities. The incidence of death and disability resulting from meningococcal disease may be significantly reduced by rapid diagnosis, enabling antibiotic treatment at an earlier stage of disease progression.
The currently available tests take between 2 and 48 hours, and often involve culturing either blood or cerebrospinal fluid to detect the presence of meningococcal bacteria.
Nanotechnology exploits phenomena characteristic of materials at a scale of one billionth of a meter. Nanotechnology is likely to revolutionize the medical diagnostics and therapeutics industries over coming decades.
The new diagnostic test has been developed by Quintain NS, a subsidiary of NVA. The Quintain NS meningococcal test is based on nanoparticle and nanocluster technology developed at RMIT University, one of Australia's leading bioengineering centres. Nanoparticles of gold are covered with antibodies that attract the meningococcal bacteria. In the presence of the bacteria, the gold particles ‘cluster' together, which provides a simple and rapid means of detection for the disease. Preliminary testing under laboratory conditions has indicated that a diagnosis can be returned in 15 minutes.
NVA CEO Dr Peter Binks commented: "We are delighted to establish this partnership with Trinity, and excited about the potential to bring this important diagnostic to market. The Trinity team bring outstanding molecular and immunoassay diagnostic experience and skills. Over the past three months we have worked closely with the Trinity team, and been impressed with their rigor and commitment."
Trinity Diagnostics CEO Geoff Todd commented: "The market for the new product is large. The World Health Organization estimates that 1.2m cases of bacterial meningitis occur every year around the world. Of these 135,000 are fatal. This product will both save lives and establish Trinity Diagnostics as a global diagnostics company."
Laboratory verification work on the diagnostic has already commenced, supported by teams at key institutions in New Zealand and Australia.
The agreement with Trinity is the first major commercialisation outcome for NVA, which was established in February 2009. NVA has a portfolio of other technologies being positioned for commercial development, in medical therapeutics, diagnostics, advanced materials and water analysis and purification. NVA commercialises nanotechnologies developed by Nanotechnology Victoria Ltd ("NanoVic"), the Victorian Government funded nanotechnology accelerator which operated from 2002 to 2009.
About NanoVentures Australia (NVA)
NanoVentures Australia’s initial task is to commercialise the technologies developed under Nanotechnology Victoria Ltd’s NanoVic’s project agreements over the last six years.
It will seek to raise funds to commercialise these technologies, and is able to enter commercial arrangements which were not feasible under NanoVic’s corporate structure. It will also continue some of the industry development conducted in NanoVic since 2003.
NVA has a small grant from the Victorian government to enable the transition, and has recruited the NanoVic team and taken over its offices at Chester St, Oakleigh. NVA will not be investing in research projects, but as an independent commercial entity, NVA can be a partner in applications to State and Commonwealth funding pools, such as ARC, NH&MRC, Climate Ready and the VSA.
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Dr Jeanette Pritchard
Mr Geoff Todd
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