Oxford university spin out company develops tech to identify viruses in seconds

OxDX has raised £2.6m in pre-seed funding for its AI powered diagnostic technology. The method can recognise and identify specific species and strains of viruses, bacteria and other pathogens within a sample in seconds.

OxDX is a University of Oxford spin out building instant pathogen tests using super-resolution microscopy and machine learning.

Initial funding for the technology is co-led by IQ Capital and Ahren Innovation Capital, with participation from Science Creates Ventures. This funding will be used to expand the team and further validate the technology with development partners.

“Our ability to take a sample from someone with an unknown infection and answer the open question ‘what do they have?’ within a minute, is a gamechanger for infection diagnosis and treatment,” said Alex Batchelor, chief executive officer of OxDX. “We’ll start with respiratory viruses and expand from there. In parallel, we’ll be simplifying the workflow to move the test from the lab to point of care, which will represent a step change in the availability and cost of infectious disease diagnostics worldwide.”

OxDX’s AI diagnostic uses novel universal labelling technology, combined with machine learning analysis in a neural network, to identify the specific pathogens causing infection. This process takes place rapidly, in just a few seconds. With the technology, the team is able to identify respiratory viruses in clinical samples and – in the case of COVID-19 and influenza viruses – directly identify the strain.

Dr Joanna Green, principal at Ahren Innovation Capital, said: “We look forward to working with the OxDX team to achieve the full potential of their technology, operating at the intersection of machine learning and microscopy, applied to diagnostics. This type of transformative technology can have a huge positive impact on the world.”

The company aims to develop an ultra-fast analysis platform capable of rapidly adjusting to many diseases via simple software updates. This aims to improve the cost of – and access to – infectious disease diagnostics worldwide.