Select Science Editorial Article: Fast-track Diagnostics

In Profile: Fast-track Diagnostics 

By Sonia Nicholas, Clinical Diagnostics Editor of Select Science

There is an increasing requirement for fast, accurate and efficient diagnosis of infectious disease. To meet this demand, molecular diagnostics have surpassed traditional testing methods of cell culture and serology. Detecting pathogens from their nucleic acid sequences allows for faster diagnosis and tailored treatment plans, and can also offer insights into the progression of disease. 

Fast-track diagnostics (FTD) is a company that specializes in multiplex Real Time PCR (RT PCR) assays for the detection of a comprehensive range of viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites. “There are a number of infectious diseases that are well documented in the media such as Ebola, Influenza and MERS,” said Dr William Carman, CEO of Fast-track diagnostics. “But there is a whole host of other extremely important diseases of concern to clinicians such as malaria, dengue, glandular fever, respiratory infections and infections in transplant patients. FTD offers more than 60 different RT PCR kits capable of detecting more than 100 different pathogens.” 

Starting out 

Dr Carman undertook his medical training while he was living in South Africa, and has since carried out research projects around the world. In 2005, it became clear that the availability of accurate, affordable diagnostics in the developing world was a significant problem; availability in Europe and the US also left much to be desired. As FTD is not a large company, he realized that his team could make excellent kits with lower margins, making them more affordable. Furthermore, FTD realized that the epidemiology was poorly done in the emerging world and the FTD multiplex assays – which detect a large range of pathogens at once – were ideal for finding out which infections cause outbreaks or clusters of illness in the community. 

Today, the company still has a particular commitment to supporting clinical research, as well as diagnostic laboratories in the emerging world. Dr Carman says: “The company was initially founded to provide cost-effective and accurate infectious disease diagnostics to developing countries. We offer a significant discount to these countries, as well as to anyone involved in relevant research projects.” FTD kits are currently used by the GABRIEL network, for projects funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.. 

Ebola assay production 

Hospitals and private laboratories that utilize FTD assays are able to carry out syndromic testing; tests that are grouped by clinical syndrome such as respiratory infection, gastroenteritis, meningitis, sexually transmitted infections, fever and rash, childhood infections, eye infections or tropical fever. 
The assays can be run on a number of key instruments, including the Applied Biosystems 7500/7500 Fast (Thermo Fisher Scientific), LightCycler® 480 (Roche), Rotor-Gene Q (Qiagen) and CFX96® (with life sciences software) (Bio-Rad). 

For a company that is so in tune with the needs of developing countries, the production of an Ebola assay was a logical next step. The current Ebola outbreak has increased demand for a rapid and accurate test available globally, and on November 3rd 2014, FTD announced CE marking for its Zaire Ebolavirus assay – the strain responsible for the current outbreak in West Africa. The Ebolavirus assay uses multiplex RT-PCR for detection of the pathogenic genes by TaqMan® technology. 

To find out more about the respiratory assays offered by FTD, click on the ‘request information’ tab below or visit /. 

Note: currently not FDA approved 

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SelectScience: Editorial Article: In Profile: Fast-track Diagnostics