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Atlas Genetics Completes Development of POC Testing Device; Eyes European Launch This Year

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Atlas Genetics said this week that it has completed development of the Atlas Io Reader, a point-of-care molecular testing device for infectious diseases that the company claims can deliver laboratory-quality results in less than 30 minutes.

The Bath, UK-based firm said that it is now entering pilot manufacture ahead of conducting clinical studies to support its application for regulatory clearance in Europe later this year.

Atlas developed the Io Reader in collaboration with The Technology Partnership, a UK-based product-development company. The system uses a disposable cartridge to which an unprocessed clinical specimen is added, and fully automates the steps of sample preparation, DNA amplification, and electrochemical detection to analyze a patient sample for a target infection.

Atlas was founded in 2005 as a spinout from the University of Bath and molecular diagnostics shop Osmetech, which has since become GenMark Diagnostics. The proprietary electrochemical detection method is based on a phenomenon called differential pulse voltammetry, and is similar to the technology used in blood glucose monitoring.

The company is focusing its initial test menu on sexually transmitted infections. In an interview last March, a company scientist told PCR Insider that the first test for the Io Reader would likely be an assay for Chlamydia trachomatis. Atlas plans to follow this up with a combined chlamydia/gonorrhea test and assays for Trichomonas vaginalis, herpes simplex virus, syphilis, and HIV.

Atlas also has ongoing work in the area of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and Group B Streptococcus detection in newborns.

"Our focus is on diseases, including sexually transmitted and hospital-acquired infections, where rapid diagnosis is essential for effective treatment and control," Atlas CEO John Clarkson said in a statement this week. "The Atlas Io Reader is an accurate, low-cost, diagnostic instrument that has the potential to revolutionize infectious disease diagnosis by allowing clinicians to test and treat their patients in the same visit."

Atlas is financed by VC, corporate, and private investors, including Novartis Venture Funds, J&J Development Corporation, Life Science Partners, BB Biotech Ventures, YFM Equity Partners, and Consort Medical. In 2011, the company raised £16.9 million ($27.3 million at the time) in a series B financing.

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