Slough based medical technology company, Bioco Ltd, is the latest business to benefit from an expansion loan from the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership Funding Escalator, which is providing loans between £25,000 and £200,000 to eligible firms across the county.
Specialists in the application of tests associated with blood analysis, the Bioco team has been working on the development of a procedure specifically designed to test for bacteria in platelets. Like donated blood, donated platelets are in high demand across the globe in order to enable certain medical procedures and treatments such as chemotherapy and organ transplants. Unlike blood, platelets cannot be frozen, which brings distinct challenges in the management of donated platelets.
As Bioco’s Managing Director Peter Salmon explains: “People tend to think about the risks of infection in donated blood and platelets in terms of viruses such as hepatitis or HIV, which could be passed on from an infected donor, but of course the robust screening and testing systems in place to prevent this are very effective. As platelets need to be kept at room temperature, it is in fact the risk of bacterial infection that constitutes a far more pressing problem for the health care sector; just as the food in our kitchen is exposed to bacteria that will inevitably lead to its deterioration, so are platelets, which results in a ‘shelf-life’ of between four and seven days.”
Platelets currently undergo testing through traditional laboratory culture methods soon after donation, with clear specimens going into stocks held by health services. If platelets have not been used within the set time frame, they will be routinely disposed of due to the possibility of bacterial infections developing after this time. As existing testing methods are labour intensive, expensive and can take over 48 hours to get a result, is it not possible to carry out further tests for bacterial infection prior to transfusion and as a consequence, considerable amounts of potentially viable platelets are wasted across the globe.
Bac-Detect is a rapid screening system that can be used to detect bacteria at the point that the platelets are released for transfusion. The system can accurately detect extremely low levels of bacteria outside of a laboratory setting, within minutes – under 10 minutes for a single sample or as many as 96 samples in under three hours.
Peter continues: “Following several years of dedicated research we’ve developed a solution that harnesses our progressive and proprietary technology, to specifically address this platelet problem. Not only does Bac-Detect reinforce and improve upon current safety protocols, it also leads to increased cost efficiency and ultimately, extends the shelf-life of much needed donated platelets.”
The £200,000 loan from the £7.25million Funding Escalator will be used to fund the sales and marketing expansion necessary now that Bac-Detect is ready for commercial release.
Kevan Jones, CEO of FSE C.I.C., which manages the funding initiative comments: “We are excited to be funding the expansion of this innovative technology which has the potential to transform the testing and management of stored platelets on a global scale. After such a long and intensive research and development phase, it is vital that Bioco Ltd has the skills and capacity to take this product to relevant markets and the creation of 12 new roles over the next two years at their base in Slough will be a part of this.”
Funded by Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership in response to the difficulties business face in obtaining funding from traditional sources, the funding escalator is able to provide loans of £25,000 to £200,000 to eligible businesses following a robust due diligence process. Where serviceability can be demonstrated and there are prospects of job creation, the scheme is able to consider deals that may not fit conventional bank lending criteria.
For further information about the Thames Valley Berkshire Funding Escalator, please visit http://www.thefsegroup.com/thames-valley-berkshire-funding-escalator or contact Ian Baker firstname.lastname@example.org tel: 01276 608517.