Rapid Testing Platforms Similar to the Atlas Genetics “io” Could Transform Patient Care

A recent study published in BMJ Open shows that a 30-minute combined test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea could provide important cost and health benefits to patients compared to standard of care, microscopy plus a laboratory nucleic acid amplification tests. Atlas Genetics, a rapid, near-patient and point-of-care (POC) molecular diagnostics company, collaborating with Aquarius Population Health, a leading independent health economics consultancy, and the Applied Diagnostic Research and Evaluation Unit (ADREU) at St George’s, University of London have published the results of an evaluation of the benefits of multi-pathogen POC tests for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in hypothetical symptomatic patients attending clinics. The full article is available online at bmjopen.bmj.com/content/8/9/e020394.

The results show that a 30-minute POC test for Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae could provide healthcare benefits over the current standard of care, reducing inappropriate treatments by 58%, return patient visits by 56% and lowering the average time-to-cure from 4.3 to 2.3 days. Further, the published results report that the POC chlamydia-gonorrhoea testing decreases onward transmission to partners by 25% as well as preventing approximately one-third of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) cases in women. The Atlas Genetics io® CT/NG test, currently the subject of a multi-center FDA clinical study, could be the first commercially available 30-minute POC test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea capable of realising the improved patient outcomes highlighted in the study.

The benefits of POC testing are further increased with the introduction of a multi-STI POC test, a 4-pathogen test for Chlamydia trachomatis, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Trichomonas vaginalis & Mycoplasma genitalium, predicting a 10-fold reduction in inappropriate treatments, a 73% reduction in return clinical visits, a decrease in the average time-to-cure from 4.3 to 1.1 days, while reducing the onward transmission to partners by 43% and preventing around two-thirds of PID cases.

The release of new British Association of Sexual Health & HIV (BASHH) guidelines highlights the importance of including Mycoplasma genitalium in the multi-STI POC test. There is growing concern within the sexual health community over the current levels of undiagnosed Mycoplasma genitalium infections and the increasing antibiotic resistance of this pathogen, propagated by inappropriate treatment as a consequence of slow turnaround times for test results and incomplete diagnostic information.

The findings of this study were derived from an analysis of a hypothetical cohort, simulating the 965,988 people attending sexual health clinics in England with symptoms. Given the breadth and power of these findings, it has supported an extension of this work, involving the restructuring and optimisation of actual clinical pathways, using the Atlas Genetics io® Chlamydia/Gonorrhoea POC test, in five exemplar UK clinics, to further understand the real-world benefits and cost savings of STI POC testing in true clinical settings.

“With sexually-transmitted infections continuing to rise, the need for rapid, convenient, multiplex solutions is paramount,” said Jeffrey Luber, CEO of Atlas Genetics. “We commend the teams at St. George’s, University of Londonand Aquarius for their important work demonstrating the value that a 30-minute combined test could bring to the patient. For us, it underscores the potential for a critical link between our own point of care platform and better health.”

Dr Elisabeth Adams, Managing Director of Aquarius Population Health said: “Our study shows that a multi-pathogen point-of-care test could hugely benefit patients as well as having a public health impact. We are excited to be working on a follow-on project funding by the Small Business Research Initiative through Innovate UK, in which we are developing further persuasive health economic evidence for a rapid STI POC test.”

Professor Tariq Sadiq, Director of ADREU at St George’s, University of London, commented: “We now know that many STIs are responsible for causing similar kinds of symptoms in patients, but this knowledge is making treatment very complicated. These tests will help doctors choose the correct treatment for the correct infection, immediately. Our research suggests, that if used, these STI POC tests could meaningfully reduce chances of transmission to partners and prevent inappropriate antibiotics being given.”

About Atlas Genetics

Atlas Genetics is creating a new category of in vitro diagnostics focused on decentralised, near-patient and point-of-care (POC) testing for everyone. With routine testing rapidly moving from the “hub” to the “spokes,” Atlas Genetics’ io® platform is poised to benefit from this growing trend in decentralised testing. The company’s proprietary technology platform positions Atlas Genetics in the vanguard of the rapidly evolving and increasingly patient-directed landscape of consumer diagnostics, where convenience, rapid “test and treat,” and portability of platform are becoming critical to success. Atlas Genetics aims to improve patient outcomes by arming healthcare professionals with a simple-to-use, rapid and cost-effective solution for on-demand diagnosis of infectious diseases. The company’s broad infectious disease platform is designed to provide rapid turnaround times, high accuracy and low cost. The io platform offers a sample-to-answer time in about 30 minutes, making it possible to carry out infectious disease tests in primary care clinics and physicians’ offices anywhere. Atlas Genetics investors include Novartis Venture Fund, Consort Medical, Wondfo Biotech, LSP Venture Capital, BB Biotech, Johnson & Johnson Innovation, RMI Investments and Southwest Ventures Fund. For further information visit www.atlasgenetics.com

About Aquarius Population Health

Aquarius Population Health was founded by Dr Elisabeth Adams, and is based in King’s Cross, London. The multidisciplinary team specialise in developing creative ways to explore and solve healthcare problems. They generate independent insight and evidence to support informed decisions that can impact on policy and commercialisation and improve patient care in an efficient way. Aquarius Population Health delivers health research and consultancy for clients and collaborators in the commercial, academic, charity, and government sectors. For further information visit www.aquariusph.com

About Applied Diagnostic Research and Evaluation Unit, St George’s University of London

The Applied Diagnostic Research and Evaluation Unit (ADREU) is a proven multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary group including experts in diagnostic evaluations, epidemiology and public health, clinical medicine, social science and basic and translational science, based at St George’s, University of London. For further information visit www.adreu.com

Innovate UK

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government. For more information visit www.ukri.org. Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas, including those from the UK’s world-class research base. We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth. We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

The SBRI programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector and gain contracts to solve specific problems. Competitions for new technologies and ideas are run on specific topics and aim to engage a broad range of organisations. SBRI enables the public sector to engage with industry during the early stages of development, supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping. For further information visit https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/sbri-the-small-business-research-initiative