Nick Allan

Infectious diseases Point of Care assay industry trends

For insight into Infectious diseases Point of Care (POC) assay industry trends I’ve summarized several leading sources for trends including the World Health Organization, the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) meeting key topics, and an Ipsos Mori poll published by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

From this sector wide review, one can see that the trend in the infectious diseases diagnostics industry is going to continue to expand into traditional diagnostic areas to meet the increasing demands of the disease pressures the assays are developed to diagnose (as seen in HIV and increasing age demographics).  At the same time, whole new fields are also opening up to this industry as global conflict drives forced migration driving never before needed strategies for screening, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

As an overview, the proceedings of ECCMID 2016 meeting are a good guide for trends in the next 10-15 years. Not surprisingly, a key area of focus was refugee health. Thousands of people who are currently migrating from the Middle East challenge the public health systems in transition and host countries. Clinicians and public health specialists need to develop strategies for screening, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases that were largely eradicated in Europe are now gradually being reintroduced.  This is an area which is unfortunately expected to grow within the next 5 years and will be served through development of POC infectious disease diagnostics development.

A second focus area was on emerging colistin (an important polymyxin antibiotic critical for the treatment of resistant Gram-Negative organisms (think E. coli)) resistance. Emergence of resistance to this last-resort antibiotic has been reported in China, Canada, the UK and most countries in continental Europe. “With these recent reports it has become evident that this resistance can spread easily between different types of bacteria,” ESCMID President Prof. Murat Akova commented. “This is very alarming and the world needs to wake up and take note.”[1] Again, this is an area which is unfortunately expected to grow within the next 5 years and will be served through development of POC infectious disease diagnostics development.

In terms of viral infections, HIV, influenza, and hepatitis C treatments and monitoring will continue to be important.  Not surprisingly, emerging infections including those caused by the Zika virus were also identified as important areas of developing POC diagnostic development research and development.

Keynote speeches included the following topics:

  • Antimicrobial resistance: an economics perspective: Hala Audi, London, United Kingdom
  • Vancomycin resistance in Staphylococcus aureus: nothing is what it seems to be: Benjamin P. Howden, Melbourne, Australia
  • Microbiota transplantation: Vincent B. Young, Ann Arbor, MI, United States,
  • New drugs for tuberculosis: from genome to patient: Stewart Cole, Lausanne, Switzerland
  • How antibiotics for non-human use affect public health: Lance B. Price, Washington, DC, United States
  • The fungal microbiome and human health: Mahmoud A. Ghannoum, Cleveland, OH, United States,
  • Translating evolutionary biology findings into antibiotic stewardship strategies: Roy Kishony, Haifa, Israel

See more.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation published an Ipsos Mori poll saying that 71% of Britons aged between 16 and 75 are more concerned about the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola or Zika than war with other nations. Just over two-thirds said they were concerned about war, while 83% said violent terrorist attacks were their main concern.[2]

On the topic of war, military applications and demand for POC infectious disease diagnostics is also trending to be on the rise in the coming decade.  Soldiers at risk of contracting infectious disease—either from the natural environment or from bioweapons—need diagnostics that are rugged, rapid, and easy to use, according to the Diagnostic Systems Division at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID).[3]

According to the WHO, over 36 million people around the globe were suffering from HIV infection in 2014.[4]  Demand is increasing for rapid diagnostic devices pertaining to qualitative analysis of such infections to take further preventive measures. For instance, OraQuick by OraSure (NASDAQ:OSUR) is a POC infectious disease diagnostic lateral flow device, which has received the FDA approval in late 2012 for home use.  It is the first FDA-approved, CLIA-waived rapid HCV test[5].  It is reported to provide accurate results in less than 40 minutes.

The rising base of the geriatric population with decreasing immune levels is expected to provide a wide base for growth of the infectious diseases diagnostic market. The Global Health and Aging report by the NIH states that geriatric population accounts for a major share of infectious disease in low-income countries. Older people are already suffering from various infections and are more vulnerable to additional infectious diseases.[6]

Finally, as the global population increases, there is a corresponding growth in feed animal production.  As the pressures on production increase, so too does the associated disease pressures from high production practices, which in turn drives the need for better infectious disease diagnostics to ensure proper antimicrobial stewardship in this sector.   As a result, rapid diagnostic tools are also improving infectious disease surveillance in animals. There is considerable expenditure of private and public funds in this are to secure the development of polymerase chain reaction-based (PCR-based) assays to screen for diseases that have caused devastating outbreaks in livestock, such as exotic Newcastle disease (END) in poultry and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle.[7]

As noted at the beginning of this blog, the infectious diseases diagnostics industry is going to continue to expand into traditional diagnostic areas to meet the increasing demands of the disease pressures and new fields are opening up as forced migration drives new strategies for screening, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.  Finally, increased antimicrobial resistance pressures and consumer demands in livestock production are driving growth in the infectious diseases POC market to ensure judicious use of antibiotics and better antimicrobial stewardship.








[7] Institute of Medicine (US) Forum on Microbial Threats. Global Infectious Disease Surveillance and Detection: Assessing the Challenges—Finding Solutions, Workshop Summary. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2007. 3, Detection and Diagnostics. Available from:

Image: StarFish Medical

Nick Allan is the StarFish Medical Biotech Manager. He applies creative thinking and innovation to biomedical project commercialization from product definition through sustaining engineering.


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