DEVOTE The University of Manchester

The DEVOTE Programme will develop a translational pipeline with collaboration between industry, universities, and healthcare professionals to support the development and implementation of time critical genomic testing technologies.

The challenge

A biomarker is a chemical or signal which can be measured from the human body to help to diagnose disease or predict future health states. Biomarkers are commonly used in healthcare to guide patient management, but there is a major translational bottleneck between the discovery of a clinically relevant biomarker and its implementation in routine practice to help patients. This is particularly true of genetic biomarkers, defined as changes in our genetic code which predispose to disease or predict treatment outcomes. 

Many of these are related to pharmacogenetics, the concept that changes in our genetic code influence our response to medicines. At present, genetic tests are slow to guide prescribing in day-to-day practice. Traditional genetic tests take many weeks or months to come back, which is far too slow to be used in most clinical settings. However, new technologies have the potential to change this. The challenge for biotechnology companies is understanding how best to implement these technologies in clinical settings.

The project

The DEVOTE programme will build on Greater Manchester's world leading reputation in this space, empowering industry to focus on its core business of technology development, whilst academic and clinical partners work to ensure said technologies are cost effective, well-placed in the market, and designed with patients in mind. DEVOTE will demonstrate its value through three exemplar projects:

  • Development of a rapid genetic bedside test to guide treatment for patients after stroke (Genedrive plc & EMQN). 
  • Using new and emerging biomaterials to develop an ultra-rapid genetic test, capable of detecting genetic changes to guide antibiotic therapy (Chromition Ltd and Epinal). 
  • Creation of a comprehensive pharmacogenetic testing panel with an informatic solution to ensure results are available to clinicians at the point of need (APIS Assay Technologies Ltd & EMQN). 

The future

These varied projects reflect the flexibility of the DEVOTE programme and the outputs will not only improve the health of the population, but will create valuable industrial assets, aiming to spark further investment across Greater Manchester. The DEVOTE programme will continue to engage with other industrial partners beyond the lifecycle of the Innovation Accelerator award, with a view to driving innovation and the translation of technologies over the next decade.