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19 July, 2022 - 13:36 By Tony Quested

Paragraf taps £550k grant to spark graphene-based diagnostics revolution

Cambridge Cluster company Paragraf has launched a plan to develop a new generation of graphene-based, in-vitro diagnostic products that will yield results within a few minutes.

Paragraf, regarded as the first company in the world to deliver a scalable approach to graphene electronic device manufacturing, is starting a two-year programme to develop a proof-of-concept combined PCT (procalcitonin) and CRP (C-reactive protein) test on a single panel. 

The collaborative project leverages a £550,000 Biomedical Catalyst grant award from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency.

Paragraf is collaborating with the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT), on the project.

A clinical study of the combined PCT/CRP test will be delivered at MFT’s Diagnostics and Technology Accelerator (DiTA) in mid-2023. 

DiTA aims to address unmet needs, transform patient care and improve efficiency within the NHS, by facilitating the rapid translation and adoption of new innovations into the health and care system. The project is expected to be completed by the end of May 2024.

Simon Thomas, Paragraf CEO, said: “Paragraf has the ambition and proven ability to become a deep-tech graphene pioneer across several industries. With our disruptive pipeline in novel IVD products we aim to make a major contribution to resolving some of the most intractable problems in healthcare globally, including antimicrobial resistance, the early detection of cancers, and cardiovascular diseases.

“Paragraf is notable for its unique manufacturing process to reproducibly produce high purity, high-quality graphene directly on a substrate with minimal contamination. 

“This proprietary process allows Paragraf to claim that it is the first company in the world to deliver a scalable approach to graphene-based electronic device manufacturing, with an unrivalled ability to harness one of the most conductive materials in the world.”

Paragraf raised $60 million in Series B financing announced on March 1, 2022.

Malcolm Stewart, Paragraf’s Diagnostics Business Development Director, said the graphene-based diagnostic test is expected to become the first in the world to give clinicians the ability to identify patients who need an antibiotic treatment within the space of a regular 15-minute clinic appointment. 

“It encourages antimicrobial stewardship by giving clinicians the insight into when not to prescribe antibiotics as the test result differentiates viral from bacterial infections,” he said.

Paragraf will go on to deliver a series of high sensitivity, rapid tests for disease biomarkers in areas including cardiovascular disease, oncology, and infectious diseases.

The ambition is to develop a comprehensive suite of tests that could be used in almost any environment or healthcare setting, Stewart said. He added: “Our tests are designed to provide ultra-fast answers to diagnostic challenges and to reach beyond the concept of point of care testing to create a complete diagnostic toolkit at the point of need.”

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