On the cusp of global genomics success

QuantuMDx (QMDx) is a biotech success story that started over five years ago in chief scientific officer, Jonathan O’Halloran’s garage. QMDx has traversed several continents and has finally settled at the company’s HQ in The International Centre for Life at Newcastle.

Jonathan and QMDx’s chief executive officer Elaine Warburton share a science-business partnership dating back over a decade.  A deep professional bond, and complete belief that Jonathan had invented game-changing technology that would one day address so many global health challenges, kept them going through the worst recession in years. Chief medical officer Professor Sir John Burn joined the team providing vital clinical and ethical guidance to the company, which now has offices in the USA, Asia and Africa.

The invention? A low cost handheld device named Q-POC™ which can take any sample, such as blood, urine, or even a tumour, and use DNA analysis to diagnose disease in less than 15 minutes. This process normally takes days in a laboratory, but with Q-POC™ it can be carried out at the patient’s side, saving time and money and reducing patient stress.

The device consists of a smartphone-like reader with credit card-sized disposable cartridges. Tests are currently in development for correct warfarin dosing, cancer testing, and infectious and tropical diseases testing. Companion diagnostics tests are also in development, which will advise doctors of the correct medication to prescribe for a particular disease.

Speaking on the success of the business, Elaine Warburton, CEO, says: “Locating the HQ in Newcastle was a conscious decision. Aside from being a great city with such friendly people and a real buzz, being situated at a leading genetics institution and within the Centre for Life places us at the heart of global DNA based research. The availability of high-calibre scientific researchers at Northumbria and Newcastle Universities, and the scope for excellent networking opportunities to develop our business internationally, was a further deciding factor.”

QMDx has rapidly expanded over the last two years and now has 25 staff working from several specialist labs in Newcastle. Supported by the Technology Strategy Board, Medical Research Council, the EU and the Department of Health, the company will continue to heavily recruit within the North East. QMDx has recently acquired NorthGene, a commercial paternity testing and DNA analysis company that will offer an outlet for QMDx’s technologies and provide further recruitment opportunities for the region.

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