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DASA seeks innovation in Point of Care diagnostics

Funding details
Organisation
Defence and Security Accelerator
Summary

The Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is seeking proposals for innovative ‘Point of Care’ (PoC) diagnostics technologies that provide earlier diagnosis, improved treatment and long-term health outcomes for individuals exposed to chemical and biological hazards.

Technologies that enable rapid diagnosis of individuals exposed to biological or chemical agents are currently limited. They are time-consuming, resource intensive, provide a limited identification capability and frequently rely on reach back to laboratory facilities to achieve a high confidence output. Development of novel, enhanced PoC diagnostic devices that can be used rapidly, as close to the patient as possible, and potentially in austere locations represent an attractive solution to this problem.

Total funding of up to £500k is available for this phase to fund multiple proposals at a range of Technology Readiness Levels (up to TRL 6). Additional funding for further phases of work to develop lower TRL technologies towards a higher TRL is potentially available.

Full details are available in the Point of Care diagnostics at the Front Line competition document.

We are interested in technologies that would enable the diagnosis of individuals exposed to a wide variety of agents, regardless of starting Technology Readiness Level(up to TRL 6). These technologies can be targeted at the agents themselves or at host biomarkers that change as a result of exposure.

The competition closes on 26th September 2019 at midday (BST).

It is anticipated that new PoC diagnostic devices applicable for this call will support one or more of the following requirements:

  • minimal or no requirement for sample preparation steps for complex clinical samples; (blood, serum, plasma, saliva etc)
  • provide a rapid (less than 1 hour) time to answer, to facilitate delivery of timely information to clinicians to inform treatment options
  • suitable for, or can be adapted for, use by non-expert users; i.e. minimal manual steps required for that user to perform the assay and output of easily interpretable results
  • provide high confidence information outputs with a minimal level of false positives and negatives; i.e. high levels of specificity and sensitivity for detection of analytes of interest from complex clinical samples
  • high levels of equipment reliability in resource limited settings, which may include high and low ambient temperatures
  • suitable for, or can be adapted to use with, minimal reliability on the presence of other associated lab infrastructure (to include air conditioning, mains power) and/or a large array of additional standard laboratory equipment (such as centrifuges, refrigerators and freezers)
  • suitable for, or can be adapted for, the detection of multiple analytes simultaneously
  • flexible and adaptable to integration of new assays for additional analytes to facilitate identification of a broad spectrum of agents
  • minimal equipment footprint; equipment is currently or can be made portable by an individual with minimal additional burden to that individual

It is anticipated that successful platforms will be able to be exploited in both the military and clinical sectors with applications in deployed environments, primary and secondary healthcare settings.

Each project should aim to demonstrate the mechanism of detection proposed according to the above aspirations. This demonstration can be undertaken during this phase using any appropriate platforms and assays already available to the proposer.

For proposals where reagents are required to demonstrate assay performance, details of specific assays and reagents should be included in the proposal in order for us to baseline and compare the performance of different platforms.

Depending on the detection approach, where relevant, each proposer should aim to incorporate assays specific for the following materials. Please note that we have included links to known assay components from specific manufacturers which meet the required standard; if you wish to use the equivalent product from other manufacturers please check with DASA that it meets the specification;

  • for platforms aiming to detect protein based analytes: Ovalbumin (Sigma; A5503) should be included as a target analyte. Up to 4 monoclonal and 1 polyclonal antibodies (10 mg for each successful proposal) will be provided to each successful proposal to detect this analyte. Information regarding performance of these antibodies in standard enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) will be provided.
  • for platforms aiming to detect agent specific nucleic acid analytes: DNA in the form of a certified standard (BioBall; Bacillus subtilis subsp. Spizizenii) should be used to enable design and testing of nucleic acid targeting assays.
  • for platforms targeting diagnosis of nerve agent exposure via enzyme inhibition/activity human recombinant acetylcholinesterase (Sigma; C1682) should be used to enable development of assays appropriate to measure the full range of natural human acetylcholinesterase activity levels. Information on the acetylcholinesterase activity within a normal human population will be provided to inform assay design. It is not intended for proposals to determine inhibition of enzyme function within this phase of the DASA call.

Proposals for funding to meet these requirements must be submitted by 26 September 2019 at midday (BST) via the DASA submission service, for which you will be required to register.

The funding of £500k is expected to fund 3 to 5 proposals. The value of proposals should range from £50k to £150k. If successful, contracts will be awarded for a duration of up to 12 months (although proposals of shorter duration are also valid).

Additional funding for further phases to increase the TRL is potentially available. Any further phases will be open to applications from all suppliers and not just those that submitted successful Phase bids. Further guidance on submitting a proposal is available on the DASA website.

Supporting events

25 July 2019 AM – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum. If you would like to participate, please register on the 25 July 2019 Dial in Eventbrite page.

25 July 2019 PM – A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. If you would like to participate, please register on the 25 July 2019 1-1s Eventbrite page

04 September 2019 AM – A dial-in session providing further detail on the problem space and a chance to ask questions in an open forum. If you would like to participate, please register on the 04 September 2019 Dial in Eventbrite page.

04 September 2019 PM – A series of 20 minute one-to-one teleconference sessions, giving you the opportunity to ask specific questions. If you would like to participate, please register on the 04 September 2019 1-1s Eventbrite page.

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