We are delighted to announce that Iceni Glycoscience has been named a recipient of a MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grant, run by leading NHS medtech innovation consultancy Health Enterprise East (HEE).

We have world-class expertise in glycoscience (carbohydrate chemistry and biology) and are exploiting the natural biological function of glycans (complex sugars) to provide new ways of diagnosing and treating disease faster and more accurately. Our innovative carbohydrate-based platform presents an alternative to current lateral flow diagnostics which only offer modest sensitivity at the lower limits of pathogen detection. In addition, using glycans as specific targets for infectious disease identification introduces an exciting new approach to mutation-proof diagnostics and therapeutics.

The MedTech NAVIGATOR programme – which is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and managed by HEE – will enable Iceni Glycoscience to carry out a feasibility study on the use of sugar-coated graphene sensors for the rapid and sensitive detection of viruses, such as Covid-19.

The aim of the research – which is being carried out in collaboration with Dr Christopher Blanford, University of Manchester – is to develop a robust Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for graphene sensor derivatisation with bespoke sugars, model lectins and inactivated viruses, in the first instance, to provide a robust detection system with detection limits in clinically useful ranges.

Alongside vaccination, the early detection of pathogens is key to limiting infection spread. As we have seen with Covid-19 and other pathogenic viruses, mutation gives rise to variant nucleic acid and surface proteins. However, the need for these viruses to bind to specific sugars on human or animal cells in order to infect cells and replicate remains stable.

Professor Rob Field, Director, Iceni Glycoscience, said: “There is already an enormous buzz around the potential of glycoscience to deliver both diagnostic tests and new therapeutic interventions across a variety of applications in human and animal health. We are absolutely delighted to receive this grant which will enable us to progress some extremely useful and beneficial R&D, which we could not conduct on our own. The project capitalises on the considerable infrastructure and expertise in graphene research and technology at the University of Manchester and we look forward to working with them.”

MedTech NAVIGATOR Innovation Grants are designed to foster joint working and easier knowledge transfer between innovative SMEs and eligible knowledge providers, such as NHS Trusts or universities. By facilitating closer collaboration, the programme aims to enable a more efficient and seamless product development process that will significantly shorten the time it takes for much-needed medical technologies to get to market. For further information on the Innovation Grant Scheme, visit www.medtechnavigator.co.uk