Cork firm Radisens in €1m International Space Station deal

31 Oct 2011

Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research and Innovation, holds the point-of-care assay panel, with Ian Hayes, business development director at Radisens Diagnostics (back left) and Tony McDonald, Enterprise Ireland

A Cork medical diagnostics company has been awarded a €1m contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a blood-testing device for astronauts on board the International Space Station, as well as various space missions.

The European Space Agency has contracted Radisens Diagnostics to add a thyroid test to its point-of-care device, which is in development at its facility in Cork. ESA wants to use the device on board the International Space Station and on various human spaceflight missions, where it is essential to get instant, laboratory-grade results for a myriad of health conditions.

Back on Earth, the technology developed for the space programme by Radisens Diagnostics will enable a general physician (GP) to take a finger-prick of blood and test patients for diabetes, heart disease, liver and kidney damage and thyroid conditions in their surgery with instant results. Future developments will enable the diagnosis of heart attacks, early stage cancers, such as prostate and ovarian, infectious diseases such as HIV, and viruses.

With more than 1bn blood tests ordered at point-of-care annually worldwide, this test menu offering is a potential game-changer.

How Radisens’ technology works

Currently, if a person needs a blood test they have to be referred to a hospital where a qualified phlebotomist takes a vial or vials of blood which has to be sent to a central laboratory for testing. The whole process introduces significant delays, patient anxiety and huge inefficiencies within healthcare systems, for what are routine tests.

Radisens Diagnostics recently announced a strategic partnership with the UK’s NHS, to integrate a kidney test to its point-of-care device, thus decentralising up to 15m blood tests from UK hospitals annually into the GP surgery, providing for a more comfortable and convenient experience for patients suffering from chronic kidney disease, and significant cost savings for the NHS.

“Winning this contract from the European Space Agency is a significant endorsement of our ‘sample-to-answer’ device and the breadth of blood tests it can offer. We are delighted to formalise our strategic partnership with ESA with the support of Enterprise Ireland and look forward to working on the application of our technology to terrestrial and space healthcare diagnostic needs”.

Radisens Diagnostics Ltd is located in the Rubicon Centre, which is a business incubation centre funded by Enterprise Ireland and Cork Institute of Technology, is funded by private investors, Kernel Capital, Enterprise Ireland, France’s Sophia Business Angels and the Cork City Enterprise Board and will shortly be launching it’s 2011 Employment and Investment Incentive Scheme (which replaces previous Business Expansion Schemes) to allow Irish private investors to share in the company’s growing success.

Congratulating the company, Sean Sherlock, TD, Minister for Research and Innovation, said: “Radisens Diagnostics’ success is the most recent example of an Irish company reaping significant benefits from Ireland’s membership of the European Space Agency through Enterprise Ireland.

“It is encouraging to see that Irish SMEs are developing a high profile as providers of innovative solutions for use in the European Space Programme,” Sherlock said.

To watch a series of video interviews with Jerry O’Brien of Radisens Diagnostics, click here.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years