Saw Diagnostics Ltd, Glasgow, Scotland, a biological sample analysis and point-of-care diagnostic company, has announced that Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, has awarded the company a £1.5 million grant in support of the company’s low-cost sample preparation system for use in infectious disease detection and other applications.

The Innovate UK program, which requires industry-matched funding, will finance development of the company’s integrated sample processing platform over the next 2 years. The platform is designed to enable molecular detection directly from complex clinical sample types in a variety of ‘near-patient’ and research settings.


Iain Miller, PhD, Saw Diagnostics.

The Saw Diagnostics platform makes use of a unique acoustic-flow technology developed at the University of Glasgow’s school of engineering. Samples of patients’ blood, swabs, or urine are placed on a disposable chip, and the interaction between sound waves and the chip enables the release and amplification of DNA, potentially providing test results in as little as 15 minutes. Use of the acoustic-flow technology makes it possible for samples to be processed on-chip, with no preprocessing required, thereby avoiding complex microfluidics.

“Automated extraction of nucleic acid from diverse complex sample types is a major bottleneck in clinical testing today, often requiring that samples be sent to remote laboratories for expert analysis,” explains Iain Miller, PhD, CEO of Saw Diagnostics. “Our technology reduces the complexity and cost of the workflow, thereby truly enabling testing in diverse clinical settings that do not require laboratory expertise, such as doctors’ offices, in-pharmacy, or other near-patient environments.”

The new funding from Innovate UK is timely, coming after release of the UK’s updated strategy for combating antimicrobial resistance over the next 5 and 20 years. The strategy listed the development of, and access to, effective diagnostics as key objectives. Point-of-care testing provides near-immediate results, enabling clinicians to optimize treatment decisions while the patient is still in the clinic, rather than prescribing unnecessary antibiotics, as is often the case today. Saw Diagnostics is targeting application of its point-of-care technology to several markets, including sexual health screening, respiratory health management, and hospital-acquired infections.


Jon Cooper, PhD, Saw Diagnostics.

“We’re particularly encouraged to have invented a technology with the potential to transform infectious disease care, whilst contributing to enhanced antimicrobial stewardship,” says Jon Cooper, PhD, director and academic founder of Saw Diagnostics. “For example, we note that recent publications in the sexual health field suggest the potential for point-of-care testing to reduce unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions by an order of magnitude.”

More than 200 million sexually transmitted infections are reported annually in major markets, and recent analyses demonstrate the potential for point-of-care testing to reduce the time to cure from 4 to 2 days. In the respiratory health context, Saw is developing rapid test solutions for flu, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and Strep A, which collectively affect 750 million people each year in developed markets and are associated with expensive inpatient isolation for vulnerable patients or severe overprescription of antibiotics. In the hospital-acquired infections context, the Saw Diagnostics technology has the potential to better direct antibiotic resources, thereby reducing the emergence of drug-resistant infections, which kill 700,000 patients per year in developed markets. The Saw Diagnostics point-of-care platform will compete in a broader global molecular diagnostics market context estimated to reach $12.5 billion by 2024.

For further information, visit Saw Diagnostics.

Featured image: Saw Diagnostics’ acoustic-flow technology platform for near-patient diagnostics. Copyrighted image courtesy Saw Diagnostics.