Periodic Reporting for period 1 - NG-WTEM (Next-generation water testing for the European market (NG-WTEM))
Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2019-11-30
In the project we identified the key stakeholders in the market, including distributors, manufacturers, water testing labs and customers of water testing labs. With testing frequency increasing due to EU regulation, we approached customers of water testing labs to identify whether this was a viable market, to offer on-site testing to companies who would typically send samples to labs. We visited a company in Germany who represented a typical customer of water testing labs, as well as one of the largest water testing labs in the UK. With interviews from customers and water testing labs, we identified that this market is not suitable for our technology. Largely this is due to the large requirement of a testing system to be able to conduct a range of tests which requires significant R&D to implement.
Through contacts at the University of Cambridge, we identified urinary tract infections (UTI) as a potential market. Almost all patients with a suspected UTI will receive broad-spectrum antibiotics after testing with a dipstick in GP surgeries. Over two-thirds of patients that are prescribed antibiotics in the UK do not show evidence of UTI infection, which is greatly increasing the burden of antimicrobial resistance. Current methods to test for UTI include bacterial culture and antimicrobial susceptibility tests, usually conducted in centralised diagnostic laboratories. In the UK, over 600,000 UTIs occurred between 2013-2015; globally it was estimated that 92 million people were affected in 2013. The requirement of external triage results in a large cost to the NHS, and slow turnaround; with patients unable to wait 2-5 days the best course of action is to prescribe broad-spectrum antibiotics in GP surgeries. Our solution is to develop a compact desktop system to bring near-patient testing of antibiotic susceptible bacteria in UTIs into GP surgeries or care homes. With a disposable cartridge and a compact desktop microscope that automates colony culture and antimicrobial susceptibility testing, we can simplify testing and allow it to be performed outside diagnostic microbiology laboratories, whilst giving comparable results. This allows the correct antibiotics to be prescribed to the patient within hours rather than days. We successfully conducted a proof-of-concept in the lab and applied for funding (£120,000 to run a small scale clinical study in March 2020 which was successful, to further this project.
Next, from month four, through nine, we investigated our system as a medical diagnostic. Through contacts at the University of Cambridge, we identified urinary tract infection testing as a potential market. We conducted an initial proof-of-concept with much success, being able to identify bacterial growth from urine samples rapidly. To understand the users' needs and requirements we conducted a focus group with general practitioners, urologists and urinary testing lab microbiologists. We identified that the system needs to be able to identify antibiotic susceptibility rapidly to be able to be used as a point of care diagnostic.
The Urinary Tract Infection analysis market is valued at $3.2Billion and growing rapidly to $4.6 billion by 2024. Our solution will bring near-patient testing of antibiotic susceptible bacteria in UTIs into care homes or GP surgeries. Our initial end users will be care home practitioners in care homes who will now be able to prescribe the most appropriate antibiotics for patients.
Customers (Healthcare provider) benefits:
• Avoid transport/outsourcing costs and delays
• Rapid results for same-day decision-making
• Evidence-based antibiotic prescription reducing potential complications. For example, the mean cost per
hospitalised UTI case is estimated as £5000.
• Same day decision making for effective treatment
• Avoidance of unnecessary or broad-spectrum antibiotic treatment
• Rapid diagnosis of UTI in community settings
• Improved antimicrobial stewardship
• Reduction in antimicrobial resistance/selection pressure resulting from reduced broad-spectrum antibiotic use.