20 Feb 2007   |   News   |   Update from University of Warwick
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UK defence spin-out acquired by 3M


Acolyte Biomedica Ltd, a spin-out from the UK government’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (dstl) at Porton Down, Salisbury, has been acquired by the US technology conglomerate 3M.

Acolyte has developed an automated microbial detection platform for the rapid detection, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases.

The system is in use to help hospitals control high-risk infections through improved screening and targeted treatment of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), that occurs most frequently in hospital patients who have weakened immune systems.

Following behind is a pipeline of rapid culture-based screening tests for other microbes, including vancomycin-resistant enterococcus, which simplify the diagnostic process by automating traditional culture methodology. This results in reliable confirmed negatives in hours rather than days.

3M will use the acquisition to expand into the emerging market of infection prevention diagnostics, especially in Europe. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“This acquisition builds on 3M’s innovative research and development in the medical diagnostics area and is a natural extension of our core infection prevention business,” said Chuck Kummeth, division vice president, 3M Medical Division.

Acolyte Biomedica Ltd was formed in 2000 and currently employs 13 specialist scientists and commercial staff. It was funded by shareholders Porton Capital, dstl/Ploughshare Innovations, PartnershipsUK and Angle Plc.

The company has an exclusive global license to AKRapid technology, granted from dstl for clinical and veterinary use. It has developed this detection technology into a series of commercial prototype products, which rapidly detect the presence of bacteria and determine their antibiotic susceptibility direct from clinical samples such as blood.

In January 2006, Acolyte launched a rapid culture-based MRSA test, BacLite Rapid, which can detect the presence or absence of MRSA direct from clinical samples in less than five hours. The company says this is the only available rapid screening test which can discriminate between live and dead bacteria, allowing clinicians to determine the risk of resistant bacteria spreading in the hospital environment.

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