Sunday, October 17, 2010

Nanobiotechnology experts join forces to improve TB testing

Two UK companies have been awarded joint funding for a research project that could see significant advances in the quest to aid detection and eradication of Tuberculosis (TB), across the world.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Orla Protein Technologies (Orla) have been awarded £91,000 by the Technology Strategy Board to investigate improved methods for the detection of TB.

The project, which begins in this month, involves a combination of cutting edge technologies and expertise based here in the UK, including areas of molecular and biological diagnostics (Orla), and measurement science and infectious diseases (NPL).

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) is a pathogenic bacterial species in the genus Mycobacterium and the causative agent of almost all cases if tuberculosis.

Nanobiotechnology experts join forces to improve TB testingMore than five thousand people die every day from TB, largely in the developing world. TB is one of the major lethal factors among AIDS patients. Largely, TB affects the developing world where the situation is worsened with the infection becoming one of the main lethal factors among HIV-infected individuals.
Current methods of TB detection suffer from a need for large sample volumes, long preparation times and different results from different patient groups. This has led to a demand for more sensitive and rapid approaches to be developed.

The Consortium aims to meet this demand, by producing systems which dramatically advance current methods; helping to improve the sensitivity, specificity, cost and speed of results.

Max Ryadnov, Project Leader at NPL, said: "The main objective of the project is to demonstrate the possibility of detecting MTB quickly and cost effectively in both clinical and near-patient settings. Such capability is a Holy Grail of modern diagnostics of MTB and would significantly impact on the UK and global healthcare markets."

The study will make use of techniques developed at the National Physical Laboratory for the detection of MTB antigens - biomarkers which indicate disease – to rapidly assess the presence of the MTB in a sample. These techniques are empowered by a unique technology developed by Orla PT allowing the fabrication of protein patterned surfaces responsive to MTB biomarkers thereby making the manufacture and use of biomarker detection dramatically simpler"

Dale Athey, Chief Executive at Orla, said: "The development of such procedures will help to substantially improve health systems in resource-limiting settings, particularly in HIV-infected TB cases, where sensitivity remains well below confidence limits for all MTB tests.

"We hope the project will allow us to significantly improve consistency and enhanced sensitivity for cost-effective, easy to use point-of-care-solutions for the detection and eradication of MTB."

The project team will also work closely with colleagues in the Health Protection Agency for advice on microbiology, and to arrange testing in a clinical environment. ###

For more information on Orla Protein Technologies, please contact Anna at Goulding Public Relations on 0191 209 2795 / 07957639486 or by emailing


About Orla Protein Technologies Ltd

Orla Protein Technologies Ltd is a nano-biotechnology company focused on developing high performance biosurfaces which have applications in cell culture, Life Science tools and Reagents, and Diagnostics. The core technology was developed by Professor Jeremy Lakey, Professor of Structural Biochemistry at Newcastle University. Orla was founded in 2002 and received seed investment from NEL Fund Managers Ltd in 2003. For more information see

About The National Physical Laboratory

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) is one of the UK's leading science and research facilities. It is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate standards, science and technology available.

NPL occupies a unique position as the UK's National Measurement Institute and sits at the intersection between scientific discovery and real world application. Its expertise and original research have underpinned quality of life, innovation and competitiveness for UK citizens and business for more than a century: NPL provides companies with access to world-leading support and technical expertise, inspiring the absolute confidence required to realise competitive advantage from new materials, techniques and technologies;

NPL expertise and services are crucial in a wide range of social applications - helping to save lives, protect the environment and enable citizens to feel safe and secure. Support in areas such as the development of advanced medical treatments and environmental monitoring helps secure a better quality of life for all;

NPL develops and maintains the nation's primary measurement standards, supporting an infrastructure of traceable measurement throughout the UK and the world, to ensure accuracy and consistency.

About the Technology Strategy Board The Technology Strategy Board is a business-led executive non-departmental public body, established by the government. Its role is to promote and support research into, and development and exploitation of, technology and innovation for the benefit of UK business, in order to increase economic growth and improve the quality of life. It is sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). For more information please visit

Contact: David Lewis 084-568-01865 National Physical Laboratory

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