By Kristy Dorsey

Medical tech firm ODx Innovations of Inverness has enlisted a local pharmacy in the continuing development of its technology to tackle the problem of antibiotic resistance in global healthcare.

The partnership will see Lochardil Pharmacy serve as a collection point for samples from volunteers enrolled in the ODx clinical research programme to develop a rapid test for faster diagnosis and treatment urinary tract infections (UTIs). ODx hopes it will be the first of several such collection points.

The company is working towards regulatory approval of its test that can help decide whether treatment is need in the case of a UTI, reducing the number of unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics. If treatment is required, the test will help medical staff choose the most effective antibiotic faster than is currently possible.

READ MORE: Scottish medical technology firm to create 60 jobs

At the moment, if someone has a suspected UTI, an antibiotic is prescribed and then a sample is sent for testing. It can take up to three days for results to come back confirming whether the prescription given was the correct 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,” Lochardil Pharmacy manager Lisa MacPherson said.

“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.”

ODx established its base at Inverness Campus in August 2019 with £1.75 million of backing from Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The company currently employs 60 people and is half-way through a recruitment drive that will see 30 more jobs created to support its research efforts.

READ MORE: Trickle in £1m bid to boost employee wellbeing

In 2018, there were 172,000 hospital admissions for UTIs in the UK, with 12,000 of those presenting as chronic infections. ODx has been seeking people who suffer from UTIs to be volunteers and provide urine donations, and is aiming to sign agreements to establish further collection points.

Ben Wicks, recently-appointed chief technology officer at ODx, said the support of pharmacies like Lochardil and the NHS in securing samples is a “tremendous boost” to the company’s work.

“Over 13,000 tests for UTIs are performed in the Inverness area each year,” he added. “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.”