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6 July, 2006 - 09:19 By Staff Reporter

Cambridge merger to trigger next generation medical diagnostic solutions

Cambridge companies SmartBead Technologies Ltd (SBT) and FingerPrint Diagnostics Ltd (FPD) have merged to form a new medical diagnostics company – Pronostics Ltd.

Robert Booth, chief executive of SBT, will assume the CEO role for Pronostics, which will be based at Babraham Bioscience Research Campus.

Pronostics will continue to develop and sell the range of multiplexed diagnostics developed by SBT, initially focused on the area of autoimmune diseases.

In parallel, Pronostics will accelerate the development of its CADprint product for the diagnosis of heart disease from a simple blood sample, with product launch, supported by large scale clinical trial data, expected in 2008.

Booth said: “We are tremendously excited by the potential released through the merging of two technologies at the forefront of medical diagnostics.

“We have worked successfully with FPD for over two years now but this merging of interests will broaden and accelerate the availability of a new and revolutionary class of medical diagnostics, ‘pronostics’, based on biological profiling, which will benefit patients and health care providers worldwide.

“Together, we will deliver an entirely new type of diagnostic which will provide rapid and simple non-invasive diagnosis of diseases such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s and cancer, enabling improved patient care and outcomes.”

SBT, formed in 2000, has developed a range of new medical diagnostic products based on its core “multiplexing” technology, UltraPlex™, which enables barcoding at a molecular level so that large numbers of biological assays can be undertaken simultaneously in a single container.

This new technology, which is easier and cheaper to use than existing chip-based array technologies, cuts the cost and time of performing diagnostics in hospital laboratories by an order of magnitude.

FPD, also based in Cambridge, UK, is developing its first commercial product, a revolutionary test for coronary heart disease, called CADprint. The product utilises FPD’s proprietary platform technology for creating a biological fingerprint which allows the profiling of the complete immune system of an individual from a single simple blood sample.

Dr David Grainger, founder and CSO of FPD said: “Gaining direct access to SmartBead’s powerful and scaleable UltraPlex™ technology makes delivery of our revolutionary profiling diagnostics, at an acceptable cost to users, a possibility for the first time.

“Biological fingerprints based on genes or proteins have, to date, shown tremendous promise in research laboratories. However, this merger brings the commercial launch of profiling diagnostics within sight.”

Dr Grainger will assume the role of CSO for Pronostic.

The technology behind SBT arose out of a collaboration between Sentec Ltd and the Microelectronics Research Centre (MRC) of the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge. FPD also initially started life in a Cambridge University laboratory.

“It is interesting and exciting to see how so much value can be created by bringing together what were initially separate ideas from our Physics Department at The Cavendish Laboratory and our Department of Medicine at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.” said Alastair Hick, head of Life Sciences at Cambridge Enterprise.

“Pronostics is set to become a model for the future of inter-disciplinary research and commercialisation.”

Pronostics will continue to work in collaboration with Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, the world famous cardiothoracic hospital, to perform clinical trials of its profiling diagnostics. “If Pronostics can deliver on the promise of their technology, it will improve our delivery of cardiovascular health care, and relieve some of the burden of ever rising costs for the National Health Service,” said Peter Schofield, consultant cardiologist at Papworth Hospital, who has collaborated on the development of CADprint.

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