A new exhibition at the Science Museum, London will feature an invention from the Oxford area which could revolutionise the diagnosis of ‘Superbugs’

The exhibition entitled ‘Superbugs: the Fight for Our Lives’ will open on the 9th November 2017 and run until Spring 2019. It will ‘explore how society is responding to the enormous challenge of antibiotic resistance, and will feature scientific research from across the globe and the personal stories of those waging war on the superbugs’.

Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer recently said that ‘If antibiotics lose their effectiveness it would spell “the end of modern medicine”’. She is "really worried that without effective antibiotics, common medical procedures such as surgery and cancer treatments could become too risky”.

Part of the exhibition will include an invention from GFC Diagnostics Ltd, a company based in Chipping Warden, Oxfordshire. Using a unique testing device invented at the University of Birmingham the company has developed a cheap, quick and simple test which can be used to detect the ‘superbug’ MRSA which grows on the skin and is a ‘hospital acquired infection’. 

The test called MicroScreen is soon to undergo clinical trials and can be used in the case of emergency operations when saving time is very important. Currently prior to an operation mouth and skin swabs are sent to the lab to screen for the infection. This can take up to three days.

“Our test takes about thirty minutes and does not need expensive equipment or highly trained staff” says Bruce Savage, CEO of GFC Diagnostics “This test could be a major step forward to speed up the diagnosis of these harmful bacteria and so reduce the harm caused by drug resistant bacteria. The rapid diagnosis will allow the right antibiotics to be used, instead of using the broad-spectrum antibiotics’

Work is underway to develop a similar test for the ‘nightmare’ ‘superbug’ CPE which as been described as ‘Almost untreatable’ and poses a serious threat to patients.

Dr. Graham Cope, Technical Director said “New diagnostic tests for ‘superbugs’ are being developed all across the globe but our test has the advantage that it does not require any complex, expensive equipment or highly trained staff and it can be carried out by a nurse in a room off the operating theatre in a matter of minutes”.

GFC Diagnostics has already received a Discovery Award as part of the Longitude Prize. The money has been used to develop the test which will be considered for the £8m prize whose aim is to ‘Achieve the ultimate goal of a novel, affordable and rapid point-of-care test that could be used anywhere in the world to determine when antibiotics should be used’.


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