The UK is the European leader for research in point-of-care diagnostics that could help tackle antimicrobial resistance, according to a new report.

A study by intellectual property firms CPA Global and Marks & Clerk found that UK companies have filed more patents in this area since 2009 than any other European county. Globally, the US is the only country to have more patents filed – although it is leading by a large margin, with almost ten times the amount of new patents as the UK.

“New point-of-care diagnostics tests are key to the fight against antimicrobial resistance,” says Paul Chapman, partner and patent attorney at Marks & Clerk. “Encouragingly, our research shows that there are a number of UK companies innovating in this area.

“Nonetheless, although leading within Europe, levels of UK innovation in antimicrobial point-of-care diagnostics still lag behind the USA by quite some margin. More will need to be done to address the issue and to stimulate further innovation in this vital area.”

Diagnostic tests can help combat antimicrobial resistance (AMR) by ensuring doctors prescribe the right antibiotics at the right time. This curbs unnecessary overuse of certain drugs, which can lead to bacteria developing a resistance.

Last month a paper published by the BIA said that the best economic model for securing new antibiotics would involve a continuous supply of specialised antibiotics coupled to rapid diagnostics such as these to help decide where they will be most effective.

NICE and Public Health England have also both called for the use of a C-restive protein test in pneumonia patients to decide on the right treatment, which could save the UK £56 million.

Meanwhile, previous research by Marks & Clerk showed that big pharma firms have filed few patents for new antibiotic drugs in recent years, and have instead focussed on rare diseases.

The new report suggests larger firms are also falling behind in diagnostics, with over half of patents filed coming from private companies, 70% of which were SMEs.