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Finnish innovation combats overuse of antibiotics

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), antibiotics losing their effectiveness is one of humankind’s major health threats in the future.

Excessive and unnecessary use of antibiotics has resulted in the so-called ‘superbugs’ that conventional antibiotics have little or no effect on. “The problem is becoming progressively worse and we need to do something about it. In order to fight it, we need both new antibiotics and quick and precise diagnostics for identifying pathogens and bacterial resistance. This way, we can treat patients more precisely and avoid the unnecessary use of antibiotics”, explains Tuomas Tenkanen from Mobidiag.

As a result of Mobidiag’s extensive product development, molecule diagnostics will become an affordable alternative in the analysis of patient samples. The innovation utilises a DNA amplification method called the polymerase chain reaction, which was developed already in the 1980s but has previously been complex and expensive to utilise.

The Novodiag system is simple to use and does not require technical knowledge. The patient sample is placed in a single-use cassette, and the device will automatically analyse it. “Quick and precise analysis of the sample avoids unnecessary prescriptions and use of antibiotics”, Tenkanen continues.

For example, bacterial culture remains to this day the most commonly used analysis method for intestinal infections, which is slow and imprecise. “Treatment often cannot wait until the pathogen is reliably identified, which may lead to unnecessary medication.”

One significant advantage provided by Novodiag is the system’s ability to identify several potential pathogens at once through a single test. “We also have tests for identifying the resistance of superbugs, which is essential for preventing the spread of such bacteria particularly in the hospital environment.”

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A successful company merger and an R&D project worth tens of millions of euros

Mobidiag is backed by strong expertise in health technology. One big step along the way was a merger of three companies in 2013 – two Finnish businesses and one French business – which brought all the key technologies together in an exceptional way.

“This level of competence has enabled us to complete an incredibly large and challenging product development project, and now the Novodiag platform and the first tests have entered the European market”, Tenkanen says with excitement.

Tens of millions of euros have been spent on Mobidiag’s unique product development. The efforts have been funded by Business Finland (previously known as Tekes) and Finnvera in Finland and BPI in France as well as the European Investment Bank (EIB).

“We have also utilised Springvest’s crowdfunding with success. The current legislation allows many companies with growth ambitions to develop their business through crowdfunding”, Tenkanen adds.

Finnish and French experts created a solution for combatting the reduced effectiveness of antibiotics.


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