Rapid and sensitive diagnostics are needed to overcome pandemics - new Finnish ecosystem strengthens diagnostics development

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it is to prepare for unforeseen threats. Effective diagnostics play a key role in the fight against pandemics and there is a growing need for it in everyday healthcare. The new Finnish research ecosystem will accelerate the development of diagnostics. Canatu participates in the co-innovation ecosystem to develop Carbon NanoBud (CNB) -based hybrid sensor for target detection and drug concentration measurement.

Read press release in Finnish.

The diagnostics industry has identified a growing need for fast, sensitive and cost-effective testing methods. The COVID-19 pandemic has also increasingly highlighted the need to develop point-of-care testing methods that can be used outside the laboratory, for example, at the clinic, in home care, or as part of patient self-monitoring.

To meet this need, several Finnish research organisations and companies in the diagnostics sector are now joining forces in the Future of Diagnostics-FUDIS Co-innovation ecosystem project coordinated by VTT. The consortium will develop and bring to market new tools for the diverse diagnostic needs of the future. The network’s expertise covers the entire chain from technology and material development to manufacturing methods and equipment development.

– Our development work focuses on rapid methods suitable for sensitive point-of-care testing, which can be used to reliably measure small concentrations. With current solutions, such diagnostics often require central laboratory methods, says Senior Scientist Anu Mursula from VTT. – VTT’s role in this project is related, for example, to the development of rapid coronavirus testing technology and equipment development for reading test results.

The new methods can also be used in primary healthcare, which will reduce its workload. An ageing population and the increase in life expectancy are increasing the number of chronic diseases for which new methods of monitoring and prevention are needed. A growing public interest in health and well-being also increases the need for these solutions.

Canatu participates in the consortium to develop CNB -based hybrid sensor for target detection and drug concentration measurement. Electrochemical sensors made of Canatu CNB enable rapid and reliable detection of targets from small concentrations, improving cost, mobility and outcomes.

Conventional electrode materials lack sufficient sensitivity, selectivity and biofouling resistance required in bio-detection applications. Canatu’s Carbon NanoBuds (CNB) hold a lot of promise as a versatile material that can be tuned to maximize selectivity. A clean and large surface area enables good contact with the analyte and combined with the high conductivity of CNB contributes to strong signal and low detection limit. Thanks to its self-filtering structure, CNBs feature high resistance to fouling minimizing contamination by large molecules.

A rapid task force for diagnostics development

When new epidemics or pandemics emerge in the future, the cooperation and technology platforms developed in the FUDIS project will enable the rapid introduction of diagnostic solutions to the market. These products include sensitive and multifunctional in vitro diagnostic platforms, new (bio) materials, methods for manufacturing diagnostic tests, equipment for reading results and biomarkers.

– Product development in the diagnostics sector is often slow due to tight legislation, among other things. The ecosystem supports cooperation between research organisations and companies. It provides an excellent technical and scientific network that enables companies in the industry to accelerate product development and export to the market, Mursula says.

– The research organisations and companies involved in the project will join forces to develop new technologies and products that meet the growing need for fast, sensitive and cost-effective healthcare diagnostic methods. The aim is to promote international business and exports in the diagnostics sector, says Sampo Sammalisto, who leads Business Finland’s Personalized Health Finland programme.

In addition to VTT, the consortium also includes four universities (Aalto University, University of Helsinki, University of Turku and University of Oulu) and 11 business partners (Actim, Biohit, Canatu, Ginolis, Kaivogen, Labrox, PerkinElmer, Screentec, ArcDia, iStoc and BiopSense). The total budget of the co-innovation project is 7.1 million euros and the project has been granted Business Finland funding. The project will continue until the end of 2022.

Canatu is a high-tech carbon nanomaterial company pioneering the future of automotive, consumer electronics and semiconductor industries with the proprietary breakthrough technology called Carbon NanoBud (CNB), a hybrid carbon nanomaterial fusing carbon nanotubes and fullerenes. Everything Canatu does revolves around CNB, which as a network features truly remarkable properties making CNB attractive for an ever-expanding range of applications. Our current product portfolio spans from automotive ADAS heaters to capacitive touch sensors to EUV pellicles and more, and we are continuously on the lookout for exciting new applications where we can add more value with our material and expertise. We are headquartered in Finland, with sales offices in the US, Japan and Taiwan.

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