An Inverness-based life sciences company has teamed up with a community pharmacy in the Highland capital to help speed up its development of new technology aimed at tackling antibiotic resistance in global healthcare.
Lorchardil Pharmacy is serving as a sample collection point for volunteers taking part in vital clinical research being carried out by ODx.
The company, which opened at Inverness Campus in 2019, said the programme was a critical part of obtaining regulatory approval for the rapid test it is developing to minimise incorrect treatment of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
The technology will help decide whether medication is needed or not, reducing antibiotic misuse.
It will also aid medical staff in selecting the most effective drugs in cases where they are required.
ODx chief technology officer Ben Wicks said: “It is a tremendous boost to our work to have the support of pharmacies and the NHS to secure these vital samples from willing patients who suffer from UTIs.
“Over 13,000 tests for UTIs are performed in the Inverness area each year.
“We hope ODx technology will make a really positive impact for people in the Highlands, Islands and Moray who are supporting our development work.
“By collaborating locally, we can make a difference globally.”
He added: “Lochardil are established as a friendly community pharmacy and won community pharmacy of the year at the 2020 Scottish Pharmacy Awards, demonstrating their commitment to their local residents and businesses. We are thrilled to be working with their team.”
ODx was set up by a group of St Andrews University scientists and awarded funding of up to £1.75 million by economic development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise after selecting Inverness as its base.
Last August the firm launched a recruitment drive to add 60 workers, including assembly technicians, laboratory, office and clinical staff, to its original team of 30,
Lochardil Pharmacy manager Lisa MacPherson said: “We recognise the value of the research and it is exciting to be able to collaborate with ODx.
“At the moment if someone has a suspected UTI an antibiotic will be prescribed, and a sample sent for testing.
“It can then take up to three days for the results to come back and confirm whether the prescription given was the right one.
“It would make a massive difference for a patient to be able to get the right antibiotic after an hour, and not three days.
“With a UTI, especially in older patients, your condition can deteriorate very quickly.
“It is really important to get the right treatment as soon as you can.”
Pharmacy director John Mitchell added: “It’s great that research and development which could make a difference globally is being carried out here in Inverness.
“These are difficult times, so it is good to see ODx thrive and help create jobs.
“We are delighted to be part of the effort to address this important need.”
ODx’s research aims to develop a machine to allow for testing of urine samples to take place in-house and the firm plans to install cost-saving equipment at GP practices in rural and island communities to reduce journey and diagnosis times.