Iceni Diagnostics’ scientists have won a prestigious international award for a breakthrough that could help the fight against antibiotic resistance.

Prof David Russell and Prof Rob Field were recognised for their method of performing a rapid diagnostic test to quickly identify bacterial pathogens.

At an award ceremony held at the Royal Society in London last night (21 Nov), the team was presented with a prestigious Longitude Prize Discovery Award which supports the development of a diagnostic device for anti-microbial resistance (AMR), one of the biggest challenges facing modern medicine.

Based on dipping a tiny sample into a solution of sugar labelled with gold, the system provides a quick diagnosis, with results being indicated by a rapid colour change. The simple ‘dipstick ‘ test is much faster than existing methods of testing, removing the need to send samples on for laboratory testing and allowing much faster decisions to be made about appropriate antibiotic treatment.

Russell and Field founded Iceni diagnostics, a joint spin-out from the University of East Anglia and the John Innes Centre based at the Norwich Research Park’s Innovation Centre, in 2014 in order to explore the potential of this new technology. They received seed funding from Iceni Seedcorn Fund at end of September.

They are one of 12 winning teams who will use the prize to develop their technology and compete for the coveted Longitude Prize, a challenge with a £8 million prize fund to reward a point of care diagnostic test that most fully addresses the global problem of bacterial antibiotic resistance.

Prof Russell said: “We are delighted to be awarded this prestigious, highly competitive award. This discovery award has given us further motivation that we are working on an important international medical problem and heading in the right direction to try and solve the problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.”

Prof Rob Field said: “It is great to receive recognition for our efforts to take basic science through to potential products for medicine and agriculture. The JIC-UEA team have been working on these topics for more than ten years, but it is with the establishment of our joint spin-out Iceni Diagnostics that we began to achieve the necessary momentum to translate academic discovery into end-user devices”