L to R: Tatsuro Masamura and Dr. Hiromi Yatsuda of Japan Radio Co. Ltd, with Dar Dale Athey, managin
Jamie Hardesty

Member Article

Newcastle medical device company to expand with Japanese funding

OJ Bio, a Newcastle-based medical device company, has raised new financial backing as it continues to work towards the commercialisation of its breakthrough diagnostic technology.

The company has secured further funding from Japanese electronics partner Japan Radio Co Ltd (JRC) that will enable the company to considerably expand its technical production and business development capabilities.

OJ Bio has successfully completed the prototype development of new biochip technology that accurately and quickly identifies the presence of various infectious diseases in patient samples, with the results being displayed on an accompanying smartphone app or PC-based software.

The specialist biosensors bring together the electronics expertise of JRC with advanced protein technology developed by Orla Protein Technologies, originally a spin out business from Newcastle University, in a collaboration that led to the joint venture creation of OJ Bio.

With the new financial support, the successful commercialisation of the technology could lead to significant regional growth for both OJ Bio and Orla.

Already three new jobs have been created within the last month within OJ-Bio as it scales up production. These have included a new technical director and laboratory staff, as well as the engagement of a business development specialist in the EU.

OJ Bio and Orla are also looking to co-locate into new premises in the coming 12-18 months to allow for continued growth.

Dale Athey, chief executive of OJ Bio, said: “We are delighted with the partnership established with JRC and the support they have provided.

“We are at the leading edge of wireless point of care diagnostics, but the highly specialist and advanced scientific areas we are working in means that product and technology development lead times are lengthy.

“This new support from our Japanese partners means we can continue to build momentum towards the successful commercialisation of the technology.

“In particular, it will enable us to respond positively to the considerable interest that has been expressed in our device from medical, dental, veterinary, cosmetics and other sectors.”

OJ Bio technology is currently being used in work being carried out on new techniques for the remote diagnosis and monitoring of HIV, respiratory viruses and periodontal gum disease.

The new investment will enable the company to continue to develop these applications as well as initiating a new product development programme involving the recruitment of additional laboratory, technical and business development staff.

As part of this plan, the company will be working on new products based around its biosensor platform and extending current commercial contracts already in place. This work will led by Dr Martha Garrity, formerly technical director at Immunodiagnostic Systems plc, who has now joined OJ Bio in a similar capacity.

Tatsuro Masamura, director and executive officer of JRC, said: “This has been a highly successful collaboration and the medical device products now being jointly developed have considerable global market potential.

“We are delighted to support the growth ambitions of OJ Bio and will continue to work with them to help accelerate the commercial development of the business.”

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