National roll-out: UK government places £161m order for rapid and reliable DnaNudge COVID-19 tests

DnaNudge lab-free test already delivering rapid results in NHS A&E & maternity departments, now targeted for use in elective surgery across the UK

London, United Kingdom, August 3rd 2020 –The UK government has placed a £161 million order with DnaNudge to supply the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) with 5.8 million rapid COVID Nudge test kits, for use in NHS hospitals across the UK from September. This major order will see DnaNudge’s lab-free, rapid PCR test rolled out nationally in urgent patient care and elective surgery settings, plus further deployments in out-of-hospital settings.  DnaNudge recently obtained a CE mark for its COVID Nudge test, enabling its additional use in non-clinical locations, including care homes and other public emergency services.

The COVID Nudge test has been created by the DnaNudge team – at unprecedented speed, with support from The Technology Partnership in Cambridge – by adapting DnaNudge’s ground-breaking in-store DNA testing service. The DnaNudge consumer service, which was launched last year, analyses and maps users’ genetic profile to key nutrition-related health traits such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and cholesterol, enabling customers to be “nudged” by their DNA towards healthier eating.  Working with DHSC, and with the authorisation of the MHRA, DnaNudge validated its adapted technology in April and began an initial deployment of the COVID Nudge test in eight London hospitals – including cancer wards, A&E and maternity departments at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington, Charing Cross Hospital, West Middlesex University Hospital, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Royal Hospital Chelsea (home of the Chelsea Pensioners), Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Maternity Hospital, the Renal Transplant Centre at Hammersmith Hospital and the Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health at Mile End Hospital.

The technology builds on a series of innovations developed by Professor Christofer Toumazou and his team at Imperial College London’s Department of Electrical Engineering and the Institute of Biomedical Engineering, originally with other applications in mind. These advances include novel integration between biochemistry microfluidics, electronic circuits and miniaturisation based on smartphone technology. Use cases of the COVID Nudge test include A&E, elective surgery, paediatrics and outpatients, as well as maternity care, where expectant mothers who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms during labour can now be tested very quickly to ensure that the best and safest course of action is taken, and that mother and baby are not separated unnecessarily.

The COVID Nudge test is a rapid, accurate, portable, out-of-laboratory, sample-to-answer RT-PCR test that delivers results on the spot, at the point of need and in just over an hour. This transformative, single-chip multiplex test not only enables a comparison of a sample against both the WHO and CDC assays but could also test for FluA, FluB and RSV. In addition, the chip includes a control assay for human RNA, which eliminates “false negative” results by testing for inadequate swabbing. Trials comparing COVID Nudge against several NHS laboratory results indicated 98% sensitivity and 100% specificity.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “By quickly detecting whether the virus is present in an individual, this new test is an important step forward in point of care testing which means that positive cases can be identified and contained quickly and safely.  I am hugely grateful to DnaNudge and their incredible work to innovate coronavirus testing, which will mean we can test millions more people in the coming months.”

Dr Gary Davies, Hospital Medical Director of Chelsea and Westminster Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which is using the test within Chelsea and Westminster’s A&E, elective surgery and paediatrics departments, commented: “We are very excited to be working with DnaNudge, which is a genuine game changer and at the forefront of testing innovation. The Trust is pioneering the decentralisation of rapid and accurate point-of-need testing, and DnaNudge is a critical component of that strategy. We are already using COVID Nudge in areas such as A&E, elective surgery and paediatrics, where speed of testing has the most impact for patients. The opportunity to have this highly accurate test – without the need for a laboratory – is helping us to provide the highest quality care for our patients and support for our staff, and offers the best chance of tackling the biggest challenge that the NHS has ever faced, particularly now as we look ahead to the winter flu season.”

DnaNudge’s new RNA COVID-19 tests are based on the DnaNudge DNA testing innovation developed by CEO and co-founder Regius Professor Chris Toumazou – delivering processing outside of a laboratory environment, using DnaNudge’s patented and miniaturised “NudgeBox” analyser, which can be used anywhere. With results delivered in a little over an hour, the DnaNudge test offers a major improvement on current lab-based PCR testing, which can involve a 1-2 day delay before returning results. The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock highlighted the importance of DnaNudge to the UK’s testing strategy in his May 1st 2020 public statement – thanking DnaNudge directly for its contribution to meeting the government’s then 100,000 daily test target – and again in his May 22nd 2020 statement, referencing DnaNudge’s key role in delivering rapid testing.

Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said: “Chris Toumazou’s work to develop, adapt and roll-out such effective tests exemplifies how academic innovations are helping the NHS frontline and the patients they serve. His team’s research discovery and creativity and the government’s wise investment will support those patients and health workers who most need access to rapid COVID-19 tests.”

Professor Chris Toumazou FRS, CEO and co-founder of DnaNudge and founder of the Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Imperial College London commented: “This order demonstrates the value of DnaNudge’s rapid, lab-free testing capability, and its vital importance in terms of the UK government’s COVID-19 public health strategy. The miniaturised Lab in a Cartridge invention of DnaNudge and the test’s fast, direct from sample swab-to-result innovation with no laboratory, no manual steps or pipettes are the reasons why COVID Nudge is being adopted as a decentralised, near-patient PCR test in many patient care areas in and out of hospitals.”


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