DIAGNOSTICS DEVELOPMENT UNIT
DDU | Cambridge | UK
The Diagnostics Development Unit (DDU) was established nearly two decades ago by a group of industry scientists who worked at a multinational diagnostic company. The goal of the unit is to develop innovative tests that are rapid, simple, cost-effective and more sensitive than currently available rapid tests. This new generation of point-of-care tests are intended for the detection of infectious agents that cause serious health problems in resource-limited settings, while remaining useful and desirable in point-of-care settings in the developed world.
The team has developed two technology platforms, SAS (Signal Amplified System) for protein targets and SAMBA (Simple amplification based assay) for nucleic acids. Technologies include sample extraction and rapid and sensitive detection of infectious disease targets (DNA, RNA, antigen or antibodies).
To date, the team has developed a Chlamydia rapid test on the SAS platform using non-invasive and easy-to-collect specimens. This product has received the CE mark from the European Union authorities and is made available from DDU’s spinout company, Diagnostics for the Real World (Europe) Ltd, Cambridge, UK, who are collaborating with NGOs such as MSF to apply and distribute the test in developed and developing settings. Another product successfully developed is a Hepatitis B surface antigen test, also CE marked.
Products in the pipeline based on the same SAS technology includes a dual test for Flu A and Flu B. Tests on the SAMBA platform include qualitative and semi-quantitative detection of HIV-1 RNA and DNA across multiple subtypes, a test for simultaneous detection of Flu A and Flu B, and a dual test for gonorrhoea and chlamydia.
AWARDS: The products and technologies developed by DDU scientists received the Medical Futures Innovation Award (UK) for its innovative sample collection device and the 2007 Tech Museum Innovation Award (US) for innovation in the Health Category, in recognition of the Signal Amplification technology, which greatly improves the sensitivity of rapid test for the detection of infectious diseases.
The unit has filed 12 families of patent applications, with 20 granted or allowed national patents, detailing inventions that improve the performance of rapid diagnostic tests.
Director of Research
Dr Helen Lee
Senior Research Associates
Dr Allyson Ritchie
Dr Hiroshi Sembongi
Project Manager & Designer