Roslin Technologies and DESTINA Genomics have joined forces to launch a new company which will offer significant developments in animal treatment and care. In particular, the new venture, Vetsina Animal Diagnostics, will create solutions around the speed of testing, ability to detect low concentrations of biomarkers, utility of existing laboratory equipment, and the ability to transport samples from remote locations.
Vetsina will initially focus on the field of microRNAs (miRNA), the valuable biomarkers for infections, illness and disease. Currently, miRNA analysis requires polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technology, with significant capital equipment costs and technical limitations, including refrigeration of samples and transport issues. This has a major impact on access to modern diagnostic modalities in many veterinary and animal situations, including large herds and remote locations.
DESTINA has developed a revolutionary chemical-based system for detecting nucleic acids and single nucleotide polymorphisms, for the development of simple, fast, accurate and cost-effective products for PCR-free detection of miRNAs in human medicine.
The company, which will be based at the Roslin Innovation Centre, has a unique patented chemistry that detects tissue and disease specific miRNAs in small volume samples with no amplification required. It has also developed a buffer system that stabilises target miRNAs in plasma and serum at room temperature. This enables sample preparation, shipment and storage without need for refrigeration.
DESTINA is working on a range of targets in various human diseases. Some of these will translate into the animal space, and these will be Vetsina’s first targets. Vetsina will also research the animal diagnostics arena to focus on targets based on market need, technical feasibility and the development of a balanced portfolio. DESTINA has provided Vetsina with an exclusive, world-wide sub-licence to its IP for the development of technology in the veterinary and animal health areas.
Roslin Technologies is supporting the new company through its access to innovation and IP from the University of Edinburgh and The Roslin Institute which have expertise in the miRNA arena through the medical, veterinary and chemistry schools related to animal health and veterinary science.
“We are excited by the huge potential of this new company which will apply DESTINA’s unique, patented technology for detecting nucleic acids by developing diagnostics tests for the animal health and veterinary arena, in combination with the animal health and commercialisation expertise of Roslin Technologies,” said Hugh Ilyine, CEO of DESTINA and Executive Director of Vetsina.
“Many miRNAs are tissue or developmental stage specific, which presents the opportunity to use them as non-invasive biomarkers of tissue function associated with a variety of physiological states (e.g. pregnancy) and diseases (e.g. neoplasia, cardiovascular disease, osteoarthritis and infections). miRNA-based platforms are already being developed for clinical diagnosis of human cancer and other conditions. Studies in livestock have demonstrated the potential of miRNAs as biomarkers of mastitis, stress, energy balance and infectious disease.
“Vetsina will bring added value to these tests through direct-detection technology to improve the speed of diagnosis and facilitate the development of reference laboratory and point-of-care products,” he said.