A scientist holding a dropper over a rack of samples.
 The need for fast, sensitive and cost-effective diagnostic solutions is projected to increase as a consequence of population ageing. Image: Adobe
Health Technology

Finland’s VTT sets up ecosystem to spur diagnostics development

VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has brought together companies and research organisations to create an ecosystem to spur advancements in diagnostics, a field that is increasingly important for everyday health and pandemic preparedness.

Aleksi Teivainen

13.04.2021

The co-innovation ecosystem will develop and launch to market tools that satisfy the diverse diagnostic needs of tomorrow, utilising its expertise across the value chain – from technology and manufacturing to materials and equipment development. The need for fast, sensitive and cost-effective testing methods that can be used outside the laboratory has intensified, for instance, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our development work focuses on rapid methods suitable for sensitive point-of-care testing, which can be used to reliably measure small concentrations,” summed up Anu Mursula, senior scientist at VTT. “With current solutions, such diagnostics often require central laboratory methods.”

“VTT’s role in this project is related, for example, to the development of rapid coronavirus testing technology and [to] equipment development for reading test results.”

The research centre envisions that the ecosystem will yield collaborative and technology platforms that, in the event of future pandemics, enable the rapid introduction of new diagnostic solutions, such as multifunctional in-vitro diagnostic platforms and equipment for reading biomarkers and test results.

Actim's serologic test

Actim is one of the companies to join the ecosystem. The diagnostics company has secured CE marking for its serologic test, which offers highly reliable and efficient means of mass testing for COVID-19. Image: Actim

The need for new solutions, though, stems not only from the increasingly tangible risk of pandemics, but also from the rise in chronic diseases associated with population ageing and growing public interest in health and wellbeing.

In addition to VTT, the ecosystem consists of 11 business partners and four universities: Aalto University, the University of Helsinki, the University of Oulu and the University of Turku. The roughly two-year project has been granted over seven million euros in funding, including from Business Finland.

“The aim is to promote international business and exports in the diagnostics sector,” said Sampo Sammalisto, head of programme at Business Finland.

The 11 companies who have joined the ecosytem include Actim, Biohit, Canatu, Ginolis, Kaivogen, Labrox, PerkinElmer, Screentec, ArcDia, iStoc and BiopSense.

Diagnostics firm Mobidiag acquired for EUR 668 million

In other diagnostic related news, the Finnish-French developer of innovative molecular diagnostic tests and instrumentation Mobidiag has been acquired by Hologic, Inc for 668 million euros. Mobidiag produces PCR-based tests for acute care conditions such as gastrointestinal and respiratory infections, antimicrobial resistance management, and healthcare associated infections. The company has been in the headlines in the past year for its Amplidiag COVID-19 test receiving approval in France and EU approval for its Amplidiag RESP-4 molecular diagnostics test for the detection of respiratory infections.