FILODIAG project for real time Laser PCR diagnosis in less than 15 min
Munich, Germany – 19 February 2015 – GNA Biosolutions GmbH (‘GNA’), a company developing ultra-fast diagnostic instruments for human pathogens, announced today the start of the FILODIAG (Filovirus Diagnostics) project for developing an ultra-fast Ebola detection system based on GNA’s novel Laser PCR technology. GNA is leading a consortium of the Mendel University in Brno (Czech Republic), the Istituto Nazionale per le Malattie Infettive “Lazzaro Spallanzani” (Italy) and the Italian NGO EMERGENCY. The Project Number 115844 of this Ebola+ programme will be funded with EUR 2.3 million by the Innovative Medicines Initiative.
There is an urgent need for fast and accurate diagnostic tests in the current and any future Ebola crisis. The rapid diagnosis of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) during early and late stage of infection is a decisive step for risk assessment and for guidance to physicians to take the necessary decisions to limit the spread of the infection, and to safely nurse the infected patients. While fast and easy-to-use tests usually rely on immuno-diagnostic approaches, they typically lack high sensitivity and specificity. The gold standard for accurate diagnostics is Real-Time PCR but this procedure requires special laboratory facilities and a long processing time of up to several hours. Aim of the FILODIAG project is to deliver a potentially multiplexed diagnostic system fast enough for point-of-need testing of incoming patients as well as at critical infrastructure checkpoints like airports by withdrawal of blood, or less invasive fluids, such as saliva or urine.
The core technology being used is based on GNA’s laser-heated nanoparticles (Laser PCR) that helps to overcome the time-limiting step of heating and cooling the reaction sample in conventional PCR reactions. GNA have revolutionized this standard procedure by inducing the necessary temperature cycles with laser-heated nanoparticles that can be heated and cooled more than a million times faster than in conventional PCR. GNA has already performed Ebola Laser PCR assays that detect 10 target copies of synthetic nucleotides, corresponding to the Ebola genome sequence, in less than 12 minutes.
Members of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Mendel University, Brno, will work on integrating the sample preparation with virus-binding magnetic particles. Leading scientist Dr. Vojtech Adam explains: “We will synthesize, characterize and modify the surfaces of nanomaterials to achieve a highly specific binding of viral proteins that will allow for a faster preparation step from patient samples.”
Project coordinator Dr. Lars Ullerich, a Managing Director of GNA, said: “We are working with our international partners to develop a highly sensitive and specific Laser PCR assay based on saliva, urine or blood for Ebola detection. Our proprietary Laser PCR with ten times faster cycles allows us to utilise the gold standard of PCR also in Ebola diagnostic. Together with a label free detection, the test results will be available in less than 15 minutes. Our Pharos400 system can already detect other highly dangerous pathogens within three minutes and a rapid, simple testing workflow will be crucial to deliver effective support in the management of Ebola outbreaks.”
Dr. Antonino Di Caro, director of microbiology, National Institute for Infectious Diseases “Lazzaro Spallanzani”, will test the device and the assay in a biosafety level 4 laboratory in advance of EMERGENCY conducting field testing in their recently established Ebola treatment centre in Sierra Leone.
The FILODIAG project is being funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 115844 (www.imi.europa.eu/content/ebola-programme). This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and EFPIA. IMI2 has recently launched the programme Ebola+, in which eight funded projects have been announced, including FILODIAG, and two further projects with a diagnostic focus. The FILODIAG project will present future progress on the website www.filodiag.eu.