The Importance of Diagnostics
Randox was established in 1982 to address the need for accurate and readily available diagnostic tests to improve patient diagnosis. Around 70% of all medical decisions are based on laboratory results, and so, not surprisingly, we believe that earlier, more accurate and more accessible diagnostics are the key to improving global health and saving lives.
And yet, until now, in spite of their contribution to clinical decision making, and the important role they play in patient outcomes, diagnostic tests have only accounted for 2% of the UK’s national health budget.
But things are changing. What was once a little-understood industry, working diligently behind-the-scenes, has quickly become an area of interest and relevance to just about everybody, given the key role the sector has played during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Whilst regrettable that it has taken a pandemic to bring the health diagnostics sector into focus, it is a positive step forward for healthcare that the huge national and international scope of our sector is now rightly acknowledged. Click the links below to hear from a range of clinicians, pathologists and public officials on the importance of diagnostics.
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What We Do
Matt Hancock and Lord Bethell support Randox in call for future focus on diagnostics
In a recent Opinion Piece in The Daily Telegraph, our Managing Director Dr Peter FitzGerald stressed the value of diagnostics, the important role it plays in public health, and the contribution it has made specifically during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Whilst regrettable that it has taken a pandemic to bring the health diagnostics sector into focus, it is a positive step forward for healthcare that the huge national and international scope of our sector is now rightly acknowledged.
Indeed, Dr FitzGerald’s commentary was acknowledged by both the Secretary of State for Health, Matt Hancock, and the Minister for Innovation, Jim Bethell.
The Secretary of State noted that “Randox have played a vital role in building our global-scale diagnostics capacity.”
It is clear that the diagnostics industry, inclusive of the work Randox has done in the field, has had a positive impact in the fight against COVID-19. We know that testing at scale is the most effective way to both save lives, and ensure a timely return to a more normal society.
We are very proud of our staff, for their ongoing support, and for their commitment to the work that we do, which is making a real and positive difference.
You can read Dr FitzGerald’s full Opinion Piece for The Daily Telegraph, on our own website, by clicking here.
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COVID-19 has shown UK leadership on diagnostics; we can now become a world leader
An Opinion Piece by Dr Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, in The Daily Telegraph
When I founded Randox Laboratories in 1982 in Antrim, Northern Ireland, I could not have envisaged that today we would be manufacturing more clinical diagnostic products than any other company in the UK. Whilst I am incredibly proud that Randox is taking a leading role in the national Covid-19 testing effort, it is deeply regrettable that it has taken this pandemic to bring the UK’s health diagnostics sector into focus.
The pandemic represents the biggest diagnostics and health infrastructure challenge of modern times. It has forced and necessitated a herculean collaborative effort from Government, the NHS and the private sector. This partnership has delivered a new trust and information sharing network which bodes well for the future.
Ministers now know what we can do and rightly acknowledge the huge national and international scope of our sector and for global UK leadership and new skilled jobs. The Government is right to highlight and reflect that too many of these critical sectors and supplies have been allowed to be offshored in recent years. This has consequently had implications for patient care and the support available for health workers.
In March, the World Health Organisation’s Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that he had a simple message to countries on how to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak that was sweeping the globe, this message was ‘Test, test, test.’ In the UK, mass testing was, at that time, simply not possible. Indeed, the Health Secretary, Matthew Hancock, acknowledged that it was the lack of a significant domestic diagnostic industry that had impeded the Government’s initial efforts on testing, which is why we were behind Germany and other states. He was right and much has already been done to re-shore capacity and re-set this policy alongside understanding the importance for future British sector leadership.
Going forward, we can and must deliver a new and much tighter partnership between the NHS and private sector across diagnostics and preventative healthcare. Improved communication, co-operation and partnerships will grow British sector expertise, jobs and skills. The potential for British leadership and success here is huge.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of welcoming Northern Ireland Secretary, Brandon Lewis MP to see our new £30m specialist Covid-19 testing hub at the Randox Science Park in Northern Ireland. This investment will create 200 new science, engineering and manufacturing jobs at the facility on top of our existing workforce. It was fast-tracked over the space of four weeks and is the first step in a wider diagnostics investment programme as part of Randox’s efforts to enhance our national Covid testing capacity.
A wider appreciation of the value and resource support for diagnostics testing and preventative health policy is now overdue and timely especially when you consider that seventy per cent of all medical decisions are based on the results of lab tests. This testing must now account for more than the two per cent of the national healthcare budget. Alongside our major focus on R&D, our scientists work on pioneering research into a range of common illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease. With around twenty five percent of turnover reinvested in R&D, Randox has more new tests in development than any other diagnostic company. Our products are used across hospitals and veterinary laboratories, food testing, forensic toxicology and life sciences.
Randox labs have spent over £305 million researching the thousands of biomarkers present in our bodies and have identified the gold standard in testing. Our patented Biochip Array Technology has revolutionized the diagnostics industry by offering a unique testing platform which allows multiple tests to be carried out from a single patient sample. On Covid, we have been able to include two tests on the same biochip; one specific and one confirmatory as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
The ambition and determination to build a world-beating British diagnostics sector is overdue and right. It offers so many advantages ranging from a healthier and happier population which lives longer to more skilled jobs in a sector which works hand in glove with our world beating academia and NHS. The pandemic has rightly brought the UK’s diagnostics capability into sharp focus, and it is paramount that when we move to a post-Covid world, we take what we have learned from this crisis and build a self-reliant sector fit for the future.
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Frequently Asked Media Questions
Randox have almost 40 years of experience as a primary manufacturer in the IVD (in vitro diagnostics) industry. Last year we manufactured over 3 billion tests and exported to 145 countries. Randox are an ISO 13485 accredited manufacturer of in-vitro diagnostic medical devices, are a provider of a global laboratory accreditation scheme (RIQAS) accredited to ISO 17043, and run a number of ISO 17025 accredited laboratories. As an exporter to 145 countries and a manufacturer to other diagnostic companies we undergo multiple external audits each year, in order to remain engaged with our global markets.
At the time of the emergence of the COVID-19 threat, Randox had already developed seven CE marked assays for a range of viruses, including a number of other coronaviruses.
Upon identifying the latest strain of coronavirus as a significant global threat, Randox was able to harness our R&D capability, and some 40 years’ in diagnostics, including viral tests, to develop an effective COVID-19 assay with the same rigorous validation processes that we applied to all our other assays.
The Randox COVID-19 test underwent evaluation within, and was accepted by, Public Health England.
In its evaluation of the Randox COVID-19 test, Public Health England’s report noted that the assay correctly identified all positive and negative samples without exception.
As one of the UK’s major life sciences companies, providing diagnostic capabilities both within the UK and globally for almost 40 years, Randox has maintained regular contact with senior officials directly responsible for Life Sciences in the UK, particularly in the fields of diagnostic capability and innovation. We had developed our COVID-19 testing capability by mid-February 2020, and notified officials as such.
Over a number of weeks, we worked collaboratively with government to determine how best we might be able to support the national testing programme.
Our contribution to this programme, which was announced on 27th March, was the culmination of significant engagement, from the identification of the threat, until that date.
The UK Government showed significant confidence in Randox’s capability and conducted full engagement and planning subject to PHE acceptance of the Randox test. When PHE acceptance was granted, the Randox part in the national plan had been prepared and was quickly initiated.
Randox are providing high volume sample collection kits and are conducting testing within our laboratories.
It should be noted that Randox is only one partner within a multi-partner, national testing programme being run and coordinated by the Department of Health and Social Care.
In order for the testing programme to work efficiently, all partners work to ensure effective processes at each stage of the testing journey – from testing kit distribution and sample collection to transportation and delivery, and finally, the testing of the sample.
For our part, we are focused diligently on processing all tests in a timely manner after receipt of sample at our laboratory.
It is our priority to ensure that we support the national effort to fight COVID-19, by testing at scale, as we know that this is the most effective way to save lives and promote a timely return to a more normal society.
Our COVID-19 testing currently (as at June 2020) accounts for up to 17% of the national testing programme.
PHE managed the validation process for each of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
We understand that the national plan for COVID-19 testing is exactly that, a national plan, inclusive of Northern Ireland. The planning for the national distribution of test kits is being managed by the various statutory agencies however Randox made the case that tests should be made available locally.
Following that engagement, Randox tests were made directly available within Northern Ireland, and sent, for example, to the drive-through test centre at the SSE arena.
Randox will continue to support Northern Ireland within the UK national plan.
A Randox Home Sample Collection Kit includes one swab, one small sample collection tube containing liquid, one transportation tube, one pathoseal bag, one large postal envelope and Unique Reference Number (URN) labels.
Samples are then sent to our laboratory for testing.
The Randox COVID-19 test is a molecular-based test which looks for SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) within the body. PCR (Polyamerase Chain Reaction) techniques are used to detect viral RNA (ribonucleic acid) contained inside the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
The platform used for testing is Randox’s proprietary Biochip Technology, which allows multiple tests to be carried out simultaneously.
The COVID-19 Biochip conducts two tests – one specific and one confirmatory – as recommended by the World Health Organisation and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
The majority of results are reported within 24 hours of receipt of sample at our laboratories.
There will always be challenges within the first few months of an unprecedented programme facing an unprecedented threat and the associated global supply chain issues affecting all countries and organisations.
We are successfully overcoming these issues, ramping up our testing capacity, and moving forward positively with all stakeholders. We remain committed to the provision of optimal support to the national testing programme and the wider effort to fight COVID-19.
The Health Secretary, Matthew Hancock, acknowledged that it was the lack of a significant domestic diagnostic industry that had impeded the Government’s initial efforts on testing, which helps explain the variation between the UK and other countries.
Read an Opinion Piece from our Managing Director, Dr Peter FitzGerald, on the Telegraph Online, by clicking here.
In support of our role within the national testing programme we have invested £30m in a new COVID-19 testing laboratory at the Randox Science Park in Northern Ireland.
We have hired almost 300 new staff, and are recruiting for an additional 200 across science, engineering and manufacturing.
Find out more here.
As we continue to ramp up our testing capabilities, and work alongside the government to offer this testing to an increasing list of individuals, we also recognize a demand from a range of businesses who wish to adopt our innovative COVID-19 testing technologies to address their own particular testing requirements, without impacting on the public health need.
The Randox COVID-19 test is available to purchase as part of our ‘Get Back to Business’ COVID-19 testing service, for staff screening.
Since developing our COVID-19 assay, we have had various discussions with interested parties from countries such as China, Italy, Japan, Spain and of course the UK, on how to utilise the test to help their country’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.
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What We Do
A leader in disruptive diagnostics and healthcare
You may have heard of us.
Maybe you’re familiar with our sponsorship of the world’s greatest race, the Randox Health Grand National. Or perhaps you recognise the name Randox as being one of the partners in the UK Government’s testing programme for COVID-19.
But what exactly does Randox do?
Well, our main job is improving healthcare using innovative diagnostics technologies, for a range of health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer and stroke.
Whilst the science is complex, the applications are not. Testing such as this takes place every day behind the scenes of GP surgeries and hospitals.
Around 70% of all medical decisions are based on laboratory results, and so, not surprisingly, we believe that earlier, more accurate and more accessible diagnostics are the key to improving global health and saving lives.
Frequently Asked Questions
The Randox ethos of improving healthcare, which drove our Managing Director Dr Peter FitzGerald to start the company in the 1980s, continues today. Up to 25% of our turnover is reinvested in research and development to enable our scientists to work on the development of pioneering tests for a range of common illnesses such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
We have also spent more than £220 million developing our patented Randox Biochip. This state-of-the-art biochip technology has revolutionised the diagnostics industry because it allows multiple tests to be carried out from a single, undivided patient sample on a single testing platform.
Our Managing Director Dr FitzGerald established Randox in 1982 in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, to address the need for accurate and readily available diagnostic tests to improve patient diagnosis. At that time, doctors only conducted a handful of tests per patient, but now, more than 30 years later, Randox has developed and improved hundreds of tests, with hundreds more in development.
Randox has a broad range of products and services that offer a comprehensive insight into patient diagnosis to facilitate more effective disease management and treatment.
Our clinical product offering includes diagnostic reagents, quality control, and clinical chemistry analysers.
Our patented Randox Biochip Technology and associated Immunoassay analysers also have applications for forensic toxicology, food diagnostics, and workplace drug testing.
Our Randox Health clinics offer a range of health checks across general health, sexual health, respiratory health and more.
Randox’s focus has traditionally been on healthcare providers, so we have placed our products and services in hospitals, clinics, research and molecular laboratories, food testing, forensic toxicology, life sciences and veterinary laboratories.
With the establishment of our consumer brand, Randox Health, we also offer our innovative tests directly to the consumer in our Randox Health clinics, currently located in London, Liverpool, Holywood and Crumlin.
We have ambitious plans to roll out a number of new clinics across the United Kingdom and internationally, over the coming months and years.
Our company has grown from a small team of two scientists, to 1500 employees of 44 nationalities, including 430 research scientists and engineers.
Our headquarters are in Crumlin, in County Antrim, Northern Ireland – close to Belfast International Airport. However, we are a global company and currently have offices and distribution outlets in 145 countries, with manufacturing and R&D capabilities in 4 jurisdictions across 3 continents.
We are currently relocating our headquarters to the Randox Science Park in Antrim; a £161 million project which will accelerate the development of new products into a wide range of clinical needs, including various cancers, stroke, heart disease and neurodegenerative disorders.
We are very proud of our global penetration – today, approximately 5% of the world’s population receives medical diagnoses using products from Randox. That equates to about 370 million people. We also supply 15% of the world’s cholesterol tests, so if you’ve ever had your cholesterol checked, then there’s a high chance it could have been performed using a Randox product!
Our key observation across the globe is that within healthcare the pressure on resources means there is a focus on the “management of sickness,” rather than preventative care.
We know that a focus on early diagnosis and preventative care will improve patient outcomes and reduce the burden on healthcare systems. Making that paradigm shift is a major challenge.
That’s why Randox Health was established – to allow the consumer direct access to our innovative technologies so that they can take control of their health and make appropriate lifestyle changes BEFORE disease manifests and symptoms occur.
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Seafood is one of the most important exports in India with its shrimp being a staple food in many countries worldwide. However, 2017 and 2018 saw 27 shipments of shrimp refused entry into the US by the FDA. This was followed closely in January 2019, when 26 lines were refused due to the presence of two banned antibiotics, nitrofurans and chloramphenicol.
With Indian shrimp accounting for around one third of the countries seafood exports, India has expressed its concern over the rejections. It responded by calling the tests on the products ‘too stringent’.
The global shrimp industry is estimated to be worth around $30 billion and India’s market share is estimated at 13% in value terms.
Dr. Ramraj, President of the All Indian Shrimp Hatcheries Association has stated, “some of the metabolites in shrimp and crustacean shells are known to mimic antibiotics and therefore could give false results”.
The use of antibiotics in shrimp farming in India is banned. Madhusudano Rao, Principal scientist at India’s Central Institute of Fisheries Technology has said, “All shrimp hatchery operators and shrimp farmers and advised to use only these antibiotic- free inputs during shrimp farming”.
Randox Food Diagnostics offer the most comprehensive range of ELISA and Biochip tests currently on the market, specifically designed to identify and detect the smallest traces of the most prevalent antibiotics used in seafood, including nitrofurans and chloramphenicol.
For over 36 years, Randox has been developing cutting-edge diagnostic technologies to improve the quality, accuracy and timeliness of laboratory results, because we firmly believe that access to accurate and timely diagnostics is key to improving healthcare.
As 70% of clinical decisions are based on laboratory output, our efforts are central to healthcare and improving patient outcomes. It will come as no surprise therefore that we support the announcement made by Health Secretary Matt Hancock this week about a new green paper, entitled “Prevention is better than cure,” that will argue for a shift towards preventative healthcare, to help people stay well.
On Monday Mr Hancock argued that the “numbers don’t stack up” when it comes to spending on prevention as opposed to treatment, with £97bn of public money in the UK spent on treating disease and only £8bn preventing it.
He added that “we need a new 21st century focus on prevention.”
Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive Public Health England, echoed Mr Hancock’s sentiments by saying; “We need to move from a system that detects and treats illnesses to one that also predicts and prevents poor health through promoting health in all policies and puts people back in charge of their own health.”
It’s a goal that we at Randox share with both Mr Hancock and Mr Selbie. With new and emerging diagnostic technologies, we can speed up diagnoses, improve patient outcomes, make every pound go further and give clinicians more time with their patients.
Much earlier and much more effective diagnosis can simultaneously improve healthcare outcomes and reduce the burden on healthcare services.
At Randox, we look forward to a time when sickness is actively prevented, rather than managed. By utilising innovative diagnostic products capable of diagnosing disease and ill-health at the earliest possible stage, we can truly transform the life of the patient.
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Continuing our theme of Biotin (Vitamin B7) this month, we turn our attention to its role in diagnostic testing.
With as many as 20% of people taking biotin-containing supplements, including high profile celebrities such as Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and Vanessa Hudgens, it is important to know the effects it can have on particular blood tests, should you visit your GP or local hospital.
Whilst there are various diagnostic health tests out there, including fertility hormone tests, prostate tests, and tests for troponin – a marker released into the blood during a heart attack – that are known to be affected by elevated levels of biotin, there are other tests available, including those provided by Randox, that are not impacted.
The reason that so many non-Randox tests are impacted by biotin is that biotin is widely used throughout the biotechnology industry in the development of diagnostic tests.
ELISA tests in particular (tests that measure the reaction of antibodies to identify a substance) often make use of antibodies labelled with biotin, to detect toxins or other foreign substances within the body.
In most instances, the biotin will bind with high affinity to a protein called streptavidin. This affinity of streptavidin for biotin is the strongest non-covalent biological interaction known, and is therefore particularly useful in binding antibodies within diagnostic tests.
But with more and more people exceeding the recommended daily dosage for biotin (30 micrograms) by taking up to 10,000 micrograms of biotin in supplements marketed for beauty reasons, many diagnostic tests are being measured inaccurately. Excess biotin in the blood can block the binding of biotin-labelled antibodies to streptavidin within the tests, and the substance being tested won’t be measured accurately.
Laboratory professionals have known about this potential problem for some time. In late November 2017, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) published a safety notice to make the public and healthcare practitioners more aware that biotin can “significantly interfere with certain lab tests and cause incorrect test results.”
The FDA even reported on one particular case in which a patient died following falsely low troponin (marker of a heart attack) results when the troponin test used was known to have biotin interference. Biotin supplements masked the true diagnosis of a heart attack.
Many patients taking biotin supplements have also been misdiagnosed with a condition called Graves’ disease, an autoimmune condition characterised by an overactive thyroid. In these cases, biotin supplementation led to falsely low levels of thyroid stimulating hormones, and falsely high levels of other thyroid hormones. This particular profile of hormones led to a Graves’ disease diagnosis, in spite of a lack of symptoms, which in Graves’ disease would usually include muscle weakness, a quickened heartbeat, sleeping problems, diarrhoea, weight loss and poor tolerance of heat.
In pregnant women, tests that are impacted by biotin interference may produce falsely low levels of beta HCG, more commonly known as the ‘pregnancy hormone’ as it released by the placenta after conception. With low levels of beta HCG, and therefore no confirmation of pregnancy, pregnant women could be exposed to X-rays and CT scans that may harm the developing foetus.
So, what can be done? Suggestions have been made that patients taking biotin supplements should be made to wait before any diagnostic testing is conducted, so that the biotin clears from their system.
But this “Wait and Watch” approach certainly would not work in emergencies. In the case of a heart attack, testing must be conducted as soon as possible to allow for diagnosis, immediate medical intervention and follow-up testing.
At Randox, we are convinced that the risk of analytic interference by biotin supplementation is a serious problem that needs to be more widely recognised and promptly addressed.
In the GP setting, general practitioners must ask their patients if they are taking any biotin supplements and inform the testing laboratory if interference from biotin is a possibility. They should also consider that lab results not matching with a patient’s signs and symptoms may be caused by biotin interference.
In the acute care setting however, it is imperative that biotin technology is not used in diagnostic testing to protect patients from misdiagnosis and subsequently, further health problems.
This is why Randox’s patented Biochip Array Technology does not use biotin technology in its development. This revolutionary methodology, free from Biotin-Streptavidin is not impacted by elevated levels of biotin from biotin supplementation in the same way as Biotin-Streptavidin tests.
So if you have been taking biotin supplements for hair or nail growth, to ease symptoms associated with Multiple Sclerosis, for epilepsy or for a range of other health conditions, and your diagnostic testing has been conducted using Randox Biochip Array Technology, you can rest assured of true, accurate, and reliable results.
Randox Biochip Array Technology is interference-proof.
For further information on the Randox Biochip, visit https://www.randox.com/multiplex-testing/
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Randox Laboratories and Ulster University have launched a £5 million skills development initiative to support up to 10 individuals annually through PhD level study in the Life Sciences sector.
The Randox-Ulster University-Industrial PhD Academy, which aims to encourage the development of advanced, higher level skills in key industry sectors, will further reinforce Ulster University’s position as one of the top universities for biomedical related research impact and, enhance Randox’s competitiveness in the growing global healthcare sector.
Up to ten PhD researchers will be supported annually, including Randox employees and individuals from the wider sector, who are working on a range of scientific projects, with the ultimate goal of new product development. They will have the opportunity to work on new research projects, driven by industry and jointly supervised by Ulster University and Randox, to enhance their own individual skill sets whilst delivering groundbreaking advances in the life sciences sector. Ulster University and Randox will each fully fund up to five PhD researchers annually.
To date PhD researchers enrolled in this new programme of Industrial Research have started exciting projects in areas of medicine including mental health, diabetes and cancer, with more projects being developed. All projects share the common goal of delivering new diagnostic approaches for early detection of disease and earlier intervention where possible.
Professor Alastair Adair Deputy Vice-Chancellor Ulster University said:
“Ulster University is renowned globally for research in personalised medicine, cancer, diabetes and mental health and this makes us the perfect fit for a global industry leader like Randox. Ulster University and Randox have a longstanding partnership built around research, knowledge sharing and collaboration which has placed both organisations at the forefront of diagnostics and health research globally.”
Ulster University Professor of Personalised Medicine Tara Moore, said:
“The life sciences sector is of critical importance to our economy and health. To truly maximise our contribution to the economy and to fully exploit new advances in science and technology we must focus on advancing the skills of our workforce, ensuring the most talented people reach their full potential by working with partners to tackle new challenges and drive new discoveries. A strong and growing life sciences sector ensures patients will continue to benefit from new technologies which will help to improve diagnosis getting them the treatment they need quickly.”
“This new Industrial PhD Academy is a further step forward in our commitment to respond to national priorities such as the Industrial Strategy, aligning the research community with industry to drive innovation, building on the world-leading reputation of Randox and supporting a new generation of researchers in this strategically important sector.”
Dr Peter FitzGerald, Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, said;
“At this time of rapid and significant change in the UK, it is critical that the next-generation can meet industry’s ever-changing demands. The current STEM skills shortage costs the economy £1.5bn/year and will only be resolved if all companies in the sector recognise they have a role to play now too.
“In the last 4 months, we have made significant investments within Northern Ireland, in both R&D infrastructure and now in helping aspirational scientists at Ulster University to develop the critical skills to make a positive difference to patient healthcare around the world. We are unapologetically ambitious in our determination to cement Northern Ireland’s reputation as a global hub for life sciences and our own position as a worldwide leader.”
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A record £50 million investment which will deliver cutting-edge technologies to diagnose conditions like cancer, heart conditions and infectious diseases has been announced by Northern Ireland diagnostics company Randox Laboratories and Invest Northern Ireland.
This major project involves the establishment of three Centres of Excellence, enabling Randox R&D scientists to work collaboratively with colleagues from Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University. The centres are being officially launched today at the Randox Science Park. The ceremony will include a keynote address from Sir John Bell, who chaired the UK Government’s Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Board.
Advanced diagnostics have been identified as key to delivering sustainable improvement to healthcare systems struggling to cope with increasing levels of chronic and preventable conditions. Having been focused in this field for over 36 years, Randox has a successful track record of developing new and innovative tests – examples include assessing those at risk of Alzheimer’s disease and genetic cardiac conditions, to promote and enable preventive treatment, and a new clinically-approved test to diagnose prediabetes.
Managing Director of Randox Laboratories, Dr Peter FitzGerald, who today launched the three Centres of Excellence, said;
“When almost a quarter of the deaths of people under 75 in the UK are considered preventable, we need to ask ourselves what can be done to improve healthcare outcomes. There is an undeniable case for radical change in the way healthcare is delivered, and sophisticated diagnostics will be at the fore of this revolution.
“Enabling earlier and more accurate diagnosis, to identify those at the earliest stages of illness, ideally before the onset of any symptoms, is a game-changer. Through early intervention we can restrict the development of chronic conditions and improve people’s lives. Our view of the future is one where people are empowered through earlier diagnosis to stay healthier for longer, and where healthcare systems are freed to deliver quality services to patients. Our announcement today demonstrates our continuing commitment in this field.
“We are grateful for the support offered by Invest NI and look forward to addressing these pressing healthcare needs.”
The Centres of Excellence will focus respectively on clinical diagnostics, engineering for biosciences and quality control. The project, which will strengthen collaborative partnerships between Randox, Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University, will accelerate the development of new technologies and drive healthcare improvements regionally, nationally and across the globe.
Of the £23m of support offered by Invest NI, £5m will go toward research projects at Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast.
Welcoming the investment, Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive of Invest NI said;
“Randox has a long history of investing heavily in innovation and R&D which has enabled it to create a globally competitive export driven business, capable of developing world leading research. This major investment will enable Randox to perform cutting-edge R&D which has the potential to revolutionise the global healthcare industry. This is excellent news for Northern Ireland’s life and health sciences sector. Northern Ireland is enjoying a growing international reputation as a region of expertise and knowledge in key areas such as Diagnostics, Precision Medicine and Advanced Manufacturing. The three new Centres of Excellence will help build on this and enhance Northern Ireland’s credibility, provide supply chain opportunities, and encourage knowledge transfer with our universities.”
Sir John Bell, commenting on the potential for the UK Life Sciences sector said;
“The life sciences industry represents one of the dominant economic sectors in the UK, and one with considerable potential for growth. However, whilst we have many natural strengths we cannot afford to be complacent. We must strive to optimise our science base, to encourage collaboration across academia, industry and the NHS, and grow our industrial capabilities. To do so we need to use our extensive data sets to best effect, and have in place a strong skills strategy. Success requires vision and drive. To that end I would like to congratulate Dr FitzGerald and Randox in the establishment of these three R&D collaborative Centres of Excellence – these are assets of national standing and will have a meaningful impact in enabling earlier and more accurate diagnosis, driving improvements in patient care, regionally, nationally and globally. They are leaders in this field, committed to innovation, and I wish them every success.”
Professor Jim McLaughlin, Director of Ulster University’s Nanotechnology and Integrated Bioengineering Centre, added;
“This very welcome investment enables pioneering Randox-inspired engineering capacity at Ulster University and reflects our research commitment to the life sciences industry. From nanotechnology to the development of systems that will enable large scale laboratory capability to be produced in the palm of your hand, the partnership brings shared industry and academic research excellence from the lab into the marketplace. Life sciences is a vital economic sector locally and this collaboration will advance diagnostics and ultimately enhance patient health outcomes.”
Dr David Jess, Senior Lecturer at Queen’s University Belfast School of Mathematics and Physics, added;
“The Randox Centres of Excellence will allow Queen’s University Belfast to continue to deliver cutting-edge and world leading research. We look forward to collaborating further with industry to develop pioneering research, focused on the needs of society.”
Invest NI’s R&D support is part funded by ERDF under the EU Investment for Growth and Jobs Programme 2014 – 2020.
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