Arctech Innovation, the first spin-out company from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), is delighted to have been awarded funding from Innovate UK (IUK). The £400,000 project will complete development of its novel, odour-based, non-invasive diagnostics platform, which could be a game changer for the detection of infectious diseases.

The award of the IUK ‘smart’ grant will accelerate the research and development of Arctech Innovation’s malaria diagnostic device over the next 18 months, which provides non-invasive sampling and real-time, low-parasite, early-stage diagnosis with high sensitivity and specificity.

This work builds on 10 years of research by LSHTM and Wageningen University, demonstrating that malaria infection alters human body odour and increases attractiveness to mosquitoes. Further work by Arctech Innovation and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, showed that the identified malaria-specific odour biomarkers can be detected effectively by prototype electronic sensor technologies, combined with AI technology.

Malaria progress has stalled and last year there was an increase in malaria deaths for the first time in over a decade. Arctech Innovation will address this through its proprietary Semeion IQTM platform to create a much needed, game-changing diagnostic product for malaria. The diagnostic product itself has exciting prospects beyond malaria, due to it being a platform technology which can be pivoted to detect biomarkers of other diseases.

The highly competitive Smart Grants initiative was launched in August 2020 as an opportunity for UK registered organisations to apply for a share of up to £25 million from IUK to deliver disruptive R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy.

This is the third successful grant Arctech Innovation has received from IUK; it previously received a grant for the development of its since-commercialised bed bug lure, BugScentsTM, which was launched on the market in 2021, followed by a grant to support further R&D of its novel insect repellent technology, strengthening its partnership with Williams Advanced Engineering.

“Early, accurate malaria diagnosis is essential for effective disease management and surveillance. With this IUK funding, we will develop a rapid, non-invasive, early-stage diagnostic device for malaria, overcoming the limitations of existing malaria diagnostics that are invasive, resource-intensive and expensive,” says Dr Vanessa Chen-Hussey, Director of Innovation at Arctech innovation.

Professor James Logan, CEO and co-founder of Arctech Innovation, added: “We are very pleased to have received this competitive funding from IUK, which will accelerate development of an exciting and innovative product in our portfolio which could have profound public health and societal impact across the world.”