Why the UK leads Europe in antimicrobial point-of-care diagnostics research

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The U.K. takes the lead position when it comes to patent filings for point-of-care diagnostics in Europe, according to new research from Landon IP, the...

The U.K. takes the lead position when it comes to patent filings for point-of-care diagnostics in Europe, according to new research from Landon IP, the patent analytics and consulting arm of intellectual property management specialist CPA Global, and intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk.

The research, a comprehensive patent landscape study undertaken for the Longitude Prize, shows that the U.K. is second only to the U.S. in the number of first fillings for patent applications directed to point-of-care diagnostics tests since 2009.

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Longitude Prize is a £10 million prize fund aiming to revolutionise global health care and conserve antibiotics for future generations. It is run by innovation charity Nesta with the U.K.’s innovation agency, Innovate UK as funding partner.

The findings are included in a report, Microbial infection: Point-of-care diagnostics, which examines patent filing behaviour relating to antimicrobial point-of-care diagnostics tests over the past five years. The aim of the research was to provide a global view of patents being filed in this area and to provide a useful tool for the judging panel to use as part of their assessment of entries.

With the rise of antimicrobial resistance identified as one of the greatest modern-day risks, Longitude Prize seeks to find a fast, accurate, easy-to-use and cost-effective test for microbial infections that will allow health professionals worldwide to administer the right antibiotics at the right time. The U.K.’s dedication to fighting antimicrobial resistance was previously substantiated in the ‘Five Year Antimicrobial Resistance Strategy’ (2013-2018) produced by the Department of Health and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

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After the U.S. (where 258 out of 332 patent families were first filed) and the U.K. (26 out of 332), Germany, Australia, Singapore and South Korea are the next most common jurisdictions for patent first filings (six each).

SMEs, multinationals and universities all active in point-of-care diagnostics

Over half of patent filings relating to point-of-care diagnostics around the world were by private companies (170 out of 332 families between 2009 and 2014). Particularly dedicated to the cause are SMEs, which represent 70 per cent of patent filings by private companies (121 patent families out of 170). However, universities are also hotbeds of innovation, accounting for 118 families.

U.S. life sciences company Abbott is by far the most prolific filer of patents relating to point-of-care diagnostics, with 26 patent families. The University of California is the only other entity that has filed more than five patent families in this area. Many of the U.K.-originating patent applications belong to entities that have filed just one relevant patent family each.

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More tests targeted at TB than any other condition

Of the patent applications that specified which kind of antigen the device and/or assay (diagnostics method) sought to detect, 134 were targeted at bacteria and 114 were targeted at viruses. Only seven were targeted at parasites and five at fungi. The most commonly targeted individual antigens were mycobacteria (a cause of tuberculosis – 28 applications), HIV (nine applications), MRSA (eight applications) and C. difficile (nine applications).

Over half of patent families filed related to assays (170 out of 332), while less than a fifth related to diagnostics devices themselves (55 out of 332). The remainder of applications related to both an assay and device.

Dr. Paul Chapman, Partner and Patent Attorney at Marks & Clerk, and Longitude Prize 2014 advisory panel member, commented in a recent release, “New point-of-care diagnostics tests are key to the fight against antimicrobial resistance. Encouragingly, our research shows that there are a number of UK companies innovating in this area. Nonetheless, although leading within Europe, levels of UK innovation in antimicrobial point-of-care diagnostics still lag behind the USA by quite some margin. More will need to be done to address the issue and to stimulate further innovation in this vital area.”

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CPA Global’s Chief Executive Officer, Tim Griffiths, added, “Public awareness of the significant global health threat posed by the rise of antimicrobial resistance is increasing, as is the urgency in finding a solution. Our patent landscaping study shows that many different types of entities are engaged in this endeavour, with large pharmaceutical companies and SMEs, universities, and government agencies all carrying out research into point-of-care diagnostics. However, the study also demonstrates that there is considerable scope for further research - and we hope initiatives like Longitude Prize 2014 will encourage other innovative organisations and individuals to take up the challenge.”

Commenting on the findings of the report Tamar Ghosh, Longitude Prize Lead at Nesta, said, “This patent landscape study is a very valuable tool for the Prize. It helps us to understand the specific types of research in different parts of the world, and will also be used as a tool to help the judging Panel assess entries. Our hope is that the combination of Longitude Prize and greater awareness of the problem of antimicrobial resistance will fuel a dramatic acceleration in the search for solutions, many of which may be surprising and from unexpected sources.”

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