Meningitis test for quicker diagnosis


Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has licensed a new rapid meningitis diagnostic test for worldwide exclusive marketing rights.

The new test, developed by scientists at the Royal Victoria Hospital and commercialised by Irish start-up company HiberGene Diagnostics, uses an emerging molecular method known as loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), that can to provide reliable diagnosis within an hour.

Meningitis is a difficult disease to diagnose as symptoms are typically flu-like. Standard laboratory tests take at least 24 hours to process, and there is a need for rapid and accurate results to allow earlier confirmation to enable earlier treatment.

Brendan Farrell, CEO of HiberGene Diagnostics said: “We are particularly pleased to have secured exclusive rights to the meningitis test from the Belfast Trust. Clinical validation of the test has shown a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 99.7% which is excellent.”

Consultant Paediatrician Professor Mike Shields, who led the research, said: “Meningitis presents a clinical challenge for the emergency department doctor because the patient’s symptoms can be non-specific.

“No doctor wants to send a seriously sick child home, which is why this new diagnostic test holds such promise. When this test is available it will have the potential to save many lives.”

HiberGene Diagnostics Ltd is a start-up client company of NovaUCD, the Innovation and Technology Transfer Centre at the University College Dublin.

The company plans to market the test in the first half of 2012 and is in discussions with potential distribution partners in the US and Europe.