Ubiquitome, New Zealand
Featured Date: 22nd January 2016
Founded in 2014, Ubiquitome Limited (Ubiquitome) is a spin-off from the University of Otago. The company focuses on developing portable diagnostic products targeting the clinical, food, animal health, and environmental segments. The company has already launched its first product, branded as Freedom4. This is a hand-held real-time PCR thermocycler, capable of point-of-care molecular testing.
The compact sized product has a battery shelf life of about 6 hours. The product offers laser-based optical detection for high sensitivity and selectivity. Freedom4 can be connected wirelessly to an iPhone or laptop computer using a custom software that analyzes and interprets the test results. This allows for real-time results and data sharing. The effectiveness of the product was tested by the New Zealand Institute of Environmental and Scientific Research against existing laboratory-based analysis systems. The results showed that Freedom4 performed on par with larger laboratory-based DNA analysis systems.
The device is awaiting its FDA approval for emergency use authorization. Once approved, the device could be brought to remote locations such as disease outbreak areas for use. In addition to eliminating the need for sample preservation, this can also lead to early detection and better treatments.
In a collaborative project with Integrated DNA Technologies (IDT), Freedom4 was utilized for the detection of Ebola Virus through RT-PCR assays designed by IDT. It showed promising results against a bench-top PCR system. Ubiquitome has also partnered with AsureQuality Laboratories for the development of the Freedom4-based mobile application for molecular food safety testing. AsureQuality is a public organization, which provides food safety and biosecurity services to the food and primary production sectors in more than 40 countries. The partnership enables food safety testing to the point-of-need.
In the clinical diagnostics sector, Freedom4 is being tested for the detection of important infectious diseases such as HIV and HPV. Other potential application segments include animal diagnostics, forensics science, water quality assessment, plant pathogen detection and biodiversity conservation. All the applications can have the benefits offered by the device – portability and robustness.
As a move to support remote innovative qPCR projects, the company has launched the “Freedom For You Grants” Programme. The company plans to provide each of the winners of the program with a Freedom4 qPCR mobile device. In addition, the winners will also receive reagents, consumables, project design and technical support.
The company has already launched the product in selected regional markets. As the global healthcare ecosystem is moving towards point-of-care medicine, products like Freedom4 could pave the way for the same.