Sysmex’s rapid UTI test wins £8m Longitude Prize on AMR

Following a decade of developments, and entries from more than 250 teams around the world, the £8m Longitude Prize on AMR has been awarded to the PA-100 AST System from Sysmex Astrego.

The Longitude Prize on AMR launched in 2014 to incentivise the creation of new diagnostic tests that, in a matter of minutes, can identify whether an infection is bacterial, and if so, the right antibiotic to prescribe to slow the spread of antibiotic resistant infections

The PA-100 AST System is an innovative diagnostic test based on technology from Uppsala University. Using a tiny (400 microlitre/less than half a millilitre) sample of urine on a smartphone-sized cartridge, the test can identify the presence of a bacterial infection in just 15 minutes and accurately identify the right antibiotic to treat it within 45 minutes. This supports doctors and health workers in their clinical decision making at the point of care, and opens up the significant possibility of previously ‘retired’ first-line antibiotics coming back into use for the majority of patients.

Around 50-60% of women will develop a UTI in their lifetime, and one in 10 women aged 18 and over report at least one presumed UTI annually. UTIs are the most common bacterial infection treated by the NHS in England – and up to half of infection-causing bacteria are resistant to at least one antibiotic. In 20-30% of sepsis patients, the infection originates from the urinary tract, and urosepsis often develops from UTIs.

Mikael Olsson, CEO and co-founder, Sysmex Astrego, winners of the Longitude Prize on AMR said: “We have already started rolling out the test in Europe, we’re running studies in surgeries across the UK and working with regulators to secure additional approvals. The £8m prize will support us to tailor the test for use with different kinds of UTIs and antibiotics, speeding up access for more patients.”

The cartridge, containing a nanofluidic chip, is inserted into an analyser unit – about the size of a shoebox – which reads the chip sample at a cellular level. It is the first time a point-of-care test is capable of identifying a specific infection and its susceptibility to specific drugs by observing how the patient’s infection responds in real-time to different antibiotics (a phenotypic test).

Roughly 25-30% of patients have infections resistant to older first-line antibiotics which have been retired as a result; this means the remaining 70-75% of patients could still benefit from those older drugs. Since the PA-100 AST System identifies which specific antibiotic can treat an infection, it will likely allow retired antibiotics to be brought back into service because the test is able to demonstrate when an infection is susceptible to their effects.

Johan Elf PhD, Founder of Astrego Diagnostics, Professor of Physical Biology at Uppsala University said: “The Longitude Prize has been incredibly important in shaping the PA-100 system. We were working on developing measurement technology exclusively to answer basic science questions and when we heard about the Longitude Prize, we realised that the technology could be really useful in the fight against AMR, and the prize criteria have guided our work to develop a transformative test.”

The Longitude Prize on AMR is designed and delivered by Challenge Works – a Nesta enterprise. For more than a decade, Challenge Works has run 86 prizes, distributed £124 million in funding and engaged with 13,500 innovators across prizes tackling major health challenges, frontier technology, global sustainability and social impact.

For more on the Longitude Prize on AMR, visit www.longitudeprize.org.


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