WEDNESDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2023At least 1.4 billion people around the globe have been diagnosed with microbial infections such as urinary tract infections (UTIs), sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and chronic respiratory diseases, among which millions die every year. In the two minutes that you spend reading this article, around fifty deaths have occurred due to late diagnosis. A Cambridge-based startup — Rapidx — is aiming to change this.
The venture was initiated by Nipun Sawhney, Cambridge PhD candidate in Physics with experience volunteering in Epidemiology in India during Covid, along with Dr. Shuler Xu, medical doctor trained at University College London. While Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing itself is by no means novel, the team adopts plasmonics — a photonics-inspired technology using lasers that allows the rapid heating and cooling of DNA — to detect diseases more accurately. This eliminates the need for external heating used in current technology, such as Peltier heating. Plasmonic heating also allows PCR tests to be performed with a much shorter window period, without compromising the sensitivity or specificity of the DNA or RNA. The project is currently in its prototyping stage, and is between a year and a half to three years away for testing with the public.
Image credit: Bango Renders on StockSnap.io