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Business and Innovation News

Thursday, 07 September 2017

The spinoff Paperdrop Diagnostics designs biomedical devices

by Àlex Argemí

The detection of drug-induced injuries can be carried out using a simple paper sensor and a drop of blood. The company Paperdrop Diagnostics S.L. will develop a low-cost and easy-to-use tool for this purpose. Promoted by ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi, leader of the ICN2 Nanobioelectrics and Biosensors Group and innovation expert Dr. Marc Gallegos, Paperdrop Diagnostics S.L. is the latest example of successful transfer of ICN2 technology.

Drug-induced injuries are a little known health problem. Many population studies have shown that the occurrence of adverse drug reactions is significant. Furthermore, the regular use of six or more drugs is a predictor of independent complications, where the risk is proportionate to the number of drugs being taken.

Today, early diagnosis of drug-related injuries is non-existent. When symptoms arise, often in the form of kidney or liver failures, they can be confused with other causes, leading to the prescription of unnecessary drugs. In the context of clinical trials, these injuries are a known problem and, although expensive, specialised resources do exist for their detection. In the area of primary care, meanwhile, general practitioners do not have access to the resources necessary for the correct identification of drug-induced injuries. New precise, cost-effective and flexible tools are therefore needed to detect these complications.

Low-cost and easy-to-use without losing sensitivity and specificity

The diagnostics technologies currently available for drug-induced injuries, though advanced, tend to require access to large laboratories, qualified personnel and financial assistance. This is true of such as real-time PCR or the ELISA immunoassay, available in developed countries for research and certain clinical applications.

Paperdrop Diagnostics S.L. is a young spinoff compnay that has developed a low-cost and easy-to-use device to identify these injuries. Their technology is based on lateral flow immunoassays, similar to a pregnancy test, which are being optimised to detect six key biomarkers in the detection of drug-induced kidney and liver injuries and systemic inflammatory response syndrome. A single drop of the patient’s blood is required to carry out the test using a paper sensor. It is a low-cost and easy-to-use tool that presents the same sensitivity and specificity as lab tests.

A multidisciplinary team with a plan

The technology of this new company is based on research carried out by the Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors Group, led by ICREA Prof. Arben Merkoçi at the ICN2. To help transfer this technology to the medical device sector, the company draws on the expertise of CEO Dr. Marc Gallegos, specialised in science management, and the valorisation and transfer of technology in the biohealth sector. Mr Ángel Alonso, current secretary of the HealthTech Cluster promoted by ACCIÓ, is also among the founding members as the company’s financial director. Furthermore, the Institute for Research and Innovation Parc Taulí (I3PT) brings clinical knowledge to this promising initiative. Finally, the ICN2 Technology Transfer and Strategy Development teams, together with the UAB Research Park (PRUAB), offer extensive experience in knowledge transfer.

The company is currently looking for investors with the goal of developing the product and production to the level of a pilot plant. In a second phase it will look for an industrial partner able to fulfil regulatory requirements and undertake the industrialisation process.