The technology of Cambridge-based Akubio Ltd. has attracted UK government to invest £826,000 to develop a “new portable and low cost, rapid response disease diagnosis device, which could help doctors make instant and accurate diagnoses for diseases such as malaria and meningitis,” according to the company.
Substantially different from other diagnostic devices currently on the market (which require the addition of expensive chemicals to a sample to enable disease detection), the device, which utilises the quartz crystal element from a simple wristwatch and can be powered by standard batteries, could enable doctors to make instant, accurate, at-the-bedside or in-the-field medical diagnoses from blood or other samples.
Here’s how the company explains its RAP technology:
Resonant acoustic profiling (RAP) is based on resonating quartz technology optimised for the detection of molecular interactions.
Akubio’s AKT.av sensor cassettes use gold electrodes on the crystal surface to apply a precise current. This drives the crystal and creates resonance which reduces in proportion to the mass of molecules interacting on the surface. Analysis of the interaction data is used to accurately determine the concentration of target molecules across a broad range of concentrations, the on and off rate of binding events and molecular affinity. All of these are important parameters in understanding biological interactions and the potential effectiveness of candidate treatment regimes.
Using manufacturing skills and proprietary techniques the crystal surface is processed to introduce a biologically inert chemical layer which allows specific targets to be coupled. A variety of surface chemistries are available, giving the user freedom to couple the target in the most convenient way.
The coated crystal is encapsulated in a flow cell which is used to introduce reagents containing biological samples. The sensitivity of the system is highlighted by the reproducible measurement of changes down to 0.3Hz.
These features lead to a powerful real-time bioassay with processing times of between 60 seconds and 5 minutes suitable for use in a wide range of application areas.
Currently, few technologies offer life scientists the ability to detect real-time kinetic data of this quality across such a broad range of samples, sample purity and sample concentrations.