DNA Electronics (‘DNAe’), the inventors of semiconductor DNA sequencing technology and developers of a new, revolutionary point-of-need test for sepsis, announces today that its founder, Chairman and CEO Professor Chris Toumazou FRS, FREng, FMEDSci, FIET, FIEEE, FCGI, FRSM has been awarded the UK Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)’s highest honour, the 2014 Faraday Medal.
Named after Michael Faraday, the medal which dates back to 1922 recognises Professor Toumazou’s pioneering work in the invention of semiconductor DNA sequencing and its ability to revolutionise healthcare and save lives. Professor Toumazou’s semiconductor based sequencing technology enables rapid, cheap and even disposable DNA sequencing. As a microchip-based system, unlike optical technologies, it can be scaled down enabling DNA sequencing to be performed on a device the size of a USB stick.
In June this year Professor Toumazou’s technology was also recognised by the European Patent Office when he was awarded the prestigious 2014 European Inventor of the Year Award for Research. The principle and commercial utility of Professor Toumazou’s invention has already been proven as one of the leading next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. Under licence from DNAe, this portable and rapid semiconductor DNA sequencing technology is the basis of Thermo Fisher’s Ion Torrent™ bench-top DNA sequencing systems and has now become a multi-billion dollar industry.
Dr Steve Allen, COO of DNAe said: “At DNAe we are working to commercialise semiconductor DNA sequencing technology for the consumer healthcare market where rapid near-patient live diagnosis is needed to provide actionable information to clinicians. Our priority focus is the development of Genalysis® point-of-need tests for diagnosis of infectious diseases, particularly those leading to sepsis, where speed and DNA-specific information can make the difference between life and death, and accurate diagnostics can help to address the global crisis of antimicrobial resistance.”
Tackling sepsis by developing a point-of-need rapid diagnostic test addresses the challenge of the Longitude Prize. 37,000 people die in the UK every year from sepsis, more than diseases such as lung cancer, and time is a critical factor in survival. Professor Toumazou’s invention will enable clinicians to intervene before sepsis sets in to diagnose rapidly and accurately what infection a patient has and to help select the antibiotic that will work to treat the disease.
Commenting on the award, Chairman and CEO of DNAe, Professor Chris Toumazou said: “I am very thankful to the Institution for considering my work for this prestigious award. Being chosen as the 2014 winner is a true honour. For my entire career I have worked to bring electronic inventions to healthcare markets where there is a critical and urgent need. For me, the ability to use semiconductor sequencing to provide a medical diagnosis in just a few hours that once took days is a crucial step in saving the lives of patients. This is particularly significant for the treatment of sepsis where every minute matters.”
Tan Sri Lim Kok Thay, CEO and Chairman of Genting Berhard, a major shareholder in DNAe with a growing portfolio of cutting–edge healthcare companies said: “It is great to see Professor Toumazou’s outstanding achievement in turning microchip technology into game-changing semiconductor sequencing devices recognised by the IET. DNAe’s application of this technology to address the huge unmet medical need for rapid point-of-need testing for sepsis makes them a stand out company that we are proud to back.”
Previous winners of the award include Professor Sir Michael Pepper FREng, FRS, for pioneering contributions to advanced semiconductor structures in 2013, Dr Leonardo Chiarigliona for pioneering contributions to digital media in 2012, and Professor Donald E Knuth for pioneering contributions in computer sciences in 2011.