Global partnerships with biotech giants Johnson & Johnson and Siemens Healthineers have placed Universal Biosensors – a Victorian Point-Of-Care Testing (POCT) solutions company – as a world pioneer in medical research.
Universal Biosensor’s products are based around a unique and versatile electrochemical sensor technology that has the potential of being applied across a range of medical tests.
The journey began back in 2001, with Universal Biosensor (UBI) gaining its first major win in 2009 when it developed a blood glucose monitoring product. The solution is now being commercialised globally by LifeScan – a Johnson & Johnson company that manufactures and markets Blood Glucose Monitoring Systems for home and hospital use.
UBI Executive Chairman, Andrew Denver said: “Commencement of sales activities in the US is an important milestone in our collaboration with Siemens. Sales activities are being made for a professional segment of the US market. Siemens is responsible for the sales and marketing and the global roll-out of the Xprecia Stride™ whilst UBI is responsible for the manufacture of the strips.”
A strong focus on export drives UBI’s innovation
UBI’s Chief Financial Officer Salek Balak said the organisation is one of the few Australian MedTech companies that extends its offerings on a global scale.
“100 per cent of our revenue is from exports and our POCT strips already impact the life of millions of patients in the world,” he said.
“Our successful go-to-market model relies on a long-term relationship with highly demanding global healthcare companies, such as Johnson & Johnson and Siemens. They have both recognised the value of working with UBI to commercialise high-performance cost-effective diagnostics products across world markets.”
Some of the key success stories
The OneTouch Verio was UBI’s 2009 innovation that was taken to market by Johnson & Johnson.
Mr Balak said that since its international launch, the device has enjoyed a rapid acceleration in sales volumes, reaching a growth of over 150 per cent in test strip sales in 2015, compared to 2014.
The Xprecia Stride hand-held blood coagulation analyser was the next big hit, launching in 2014. It was recently cleared by the Food and Drug Administration for sale in the US.
Time-saving measures and cutting out pathologists
POCT solutions are a disruptive industry, cutting out the need for a blood draw and mainframe machines that can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This process is stripped back to a matter of hours in a hospital or days in the community using a POCT device.
Mr Balak said atrial fibrillation was a major risk factor for strokes, something their anticoagulation testing device can discover early and treat immediately.
With many elderly patients unable to present for regular appointments, the gap between testing could be up to two months. POCT solutions fill this gap, allowing for simple, easy testing in a timely manner.
Groundbreaking research into diseases
Aside from POCT devices, UBI is also doing research in the sphere of Molecular Diagnostics (MDx) tests.
This is a new wave of cutting edge technology that analyses genetic information to detect genetic mutation or levels of certain genetic material that uniquely identify a cancer or virus.
Mr Balak said that this market is already worth US$5 billion worldwide and is expected to grow at more than 12 per cent annually. UBI is laying the groundwork to become an Australian exporter in this field as well.
The market for molecular diagnostics is a broad segment, including blood screening, infectious disease testing, genetic testing and oncology testing. Molecular diagnostics also has the ability to drive new approaches to therapy, by enabling doctors to tailor their therapeutic strategy for each individual based on genetic information.
UBI anticipates continued growth in this area due to:
- An ageing population and greater incidence of chronic disease;
- A need for earlier diagnosis and faster treatment to reduce healthcare costs;
- An improved understanding of human genetic makeup (and how to identify irregularities); and
- Advances in chemistry and instrumentation technology.
UBI has signed a non-exclusive licence agreement with Australian company, SpeeDx Pty Ltd, for access to its proprietary MNAzyme technology, which is a highly selective method for detecting sequences of RNA and DNA.
UBI hopes to combine these MNAzymes with UBI’s proven biosensor technologies to detect DNA or RNA electrochemically, meaning:
- Tests would take minutes, rather than the hours typically required for molecular tests today; and
- The system would be simple to use and cost effective.
“UBI’s vision is to combine MNAzymes technology with our proven biosensor technologies to detect DNA or RNA electrochemically,” Mr Balak said. “This means that tests would take minutes, rather than the hours typically required for molecular tests today, and the system would be simple to use and cost effective.”