Prenetics Limited, Oxford University and Oxford Suzhou Centre for Advanced Research (OSCAR) have signed multi-million dollar collaboration agreements to further develop the award-winning OxLAMPTM technology, a rapid, molecular testing technology for infectious diseases.
Following the successful acquisition and commercialisation in October 2020 by Prenetics of Oxsed, an Oxford University spin-out company, it was envisioned that a deeper scientific and long-term collaboration was to be formed to advance molecular diagnostic testing for global unmet needs. A new Prenetics Innovation Technology Centre (ITC) for Advanced Molecular Diagnostics has been established
About Prenetics ITC
The COVID-19 pandemic has primed the market with greater awareness and interest in diagnostic tests. The Prenetics-sponsored laboratory at OSCAR will capitalise on this momentum and its previous successes to create platform technologies to diagnose infectious disease, cancers, diabetes, malaria and other conditions, as well as diversifying into detection of additives, antibiotics, heavy metals and toxic compounds. This has myriad applications across multiple industries including food safety and environmental science.
This laboratory will bring together academia, industry and clinicians to undertake need-driven, close-to-market research.
The Prenetics ITC of Molecular Diagnostics is directed by Prof Wei Huang, a leading microbiologist and molecular biologists, supported by other OSCAR PIs including Prof Zhanfeng Cui. The research will be steered by Clinical Virologist, OSCAR Visiting Professor, Dr. Monique Andersson, and lab-on-a-chip expert, OSCAR Visiting Academician, Prof. Jon Cooper, FREng, and Regulatory Affair expert, OSCAR Industry—Fellow Dr. Hong Chang.
OSCAR Principal Investigator: Prof. Wei Huang
- OSCAR Principal Investigator in Environmental Synthetic Biology
- Associate Professor at the Department of Engineering Science, University of Oxford
- EPSRC Fellowship in Synthetic Biology
- Visiting Professor at Beijing Normal University, Beijing Genomic Institute and the Chinese Academy of Sciences
OSCAR PI: Prof. Zhanfeng Cui, CEng CSci FIChemE FAIMBRE FREng
- Donald Pollock Professor of Chemical Engineering, Oxford
- Director of Strategic Projects (China), MPLS Division
- Director, JITRI IMPACT Institute at the University of Oxford
- Academic Founder of 5 spin-out companies
OSCAR Visiting Academician: Prof. Jonathan Cooper, FREng FRSE
- Wolfson Chair in Bioengineering and Emeritus Vice Principal, University of Glasgow
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Royal Academy of Engineering
- EPSRC Research Fellow
- Academic Founder of 3 spin-out companies in medical products and devices
- Internationally regarded expert in ‘lab-on-a-chip’ research
OSCAR Visiting Professor: Dr. Monique Andersson
- Director, Medical Microbiology Laboratory, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in Microbiology, University of Oxford
- Extraordinary Associate Professor of Medical Virology, University of Stellenbosch
- Clinical Lead, Infections in Pregnancy, Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Lead Researcher, Oxford Martin Programme on Antimicrobial Resistance Testing
OSCAR Visiting Industrial Fellow: Dr. Hong Chang
- COO of Oxford MEStar Ltd.— a spinout from University of Oxford
- OSCAR's first visiting industrial fellow
Professor Zhanfeng Cui, Donald Pollock Professor of Chemical Engineering at Oxford University / Founding Director at OSCAR said:
“The initial collaboration with Prenetics has exceeded all expectations and their team led by Danny Yeung have been highly involved on a daily basis with our scientific developments. We have been impressed! When we think about the future, especially with the Pandemic, it’s very apparent to us that testing is here to stay with us for years to come. With this in mind, we are excited about the future roadmap in which we develop novel scientific discoveries to aid the World with fast and accurate molecular testing globally. Our goal is to decentralize laboratory testing with rapid, highly accurate, molecular testing, not just for Covid-19 but for all infectious diseases. I’m confident we can succeed in our mission with Prenetics.”
Danny Yeung, Co-Founder and Group CEO of Prenetics, said:
“Our new collaboration with Oxford University and OSCAR is our commitment to continually invest in R&D and by establishing our own Innovation Technology Centre, we believe it will have profound breakthroughs in molecular diagnostics. We also expect more top researchers to be based in Suzhou and in Oxford over the next 3 years into our technology centre. The Oxford team of professors has been amazing and I’m truly excited with our molecular diagnostic pipeline and the opportunity to decentralize laboratory testing globally.”
In late January 2020, observing a lack of testing available at travel hubs, Prof Cui, Prof. Huang and their research teams at OSCAR and at the University of Oxford came together to create an engineering solution to fight the coronavirus pandemic. In just a few months, the team developed a rapid, portable and cost-effective test kit, based on patented OxLAMPTM technology, for COVID-19 that demonstrated excellent sensitivity and specificity, and can give clear results in as little as 15 minutes. The work was reported across the globe, and in August 2020 the team was awarded a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering President’s Special Award for Pandemic Service.
Prof. Cui, Prof. Huang and the UK team at the Oxford lab.
The Suzhou-based Oxford team in their lab.
Oxsed Limited – The first Spinout from OSCAR
In October 2020, Prenetics acquired Oxford-OSCAR spinout Oxsed Ltd. Prenetics, driven by a duty of social responsibility due to the global pandemic launched Project Screen, an initiative aimed at making COVID-19 testing easy, safe and accurate.
Prenetics have conducted over 1.5m COVID-19 tests using the rapid RT-LAMP kit developed by the joint Oxford-OSCAR team, now known as ‘Project Screen’. Clients include the UK government, Hong Kong government and multiple international airports. Last year Prenetics signed a 40,000-test contract to screen players and staff, which was instrumental in allowing English Premier League football matches to resume. The tests are used in airports across the UK for pre-departure screening as an approved test under the UK government’s Test-to-Release scheme to support international travel, and at Hong Kong International Airport. Prenetics also has community test centres in Hong Kong which have helped test over 200,000 workers in 16,000 businesses.
Prenetics™ CEO Danny Yeung
Oxford team at the Prenetics™ test centre at Heathrow
Prenetics is a leading genetics and diagnostic health testing company, operational in 10 countries with a team of over 400. Prenetics has received over USD 60-million in strategic funding from Alibaba Hong Kong Entrepreneurs Fund, Ping An Ventures, Apis Partners and more. In Hong Kong, Prenetics was the 1st private laboratory to have been appointed by the Hong Kong government for mass community testing. For more information, visit https://prenetics.com.