Ingenza and Imperial researchers work together to improve nasogastric feeding tube placement

Ingenza has teamed up with clinical scientists at Imperial College London to trial an improved diagnostic assay for confirming nasogastric (NG) tube placement. Professor George Hanna, Director of the National Institute for Health Research Diagnostic Evidence Co-operative London at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, which specialises in In Vitro Diagnostics, explained: “Correct placement of NG tubes is vital, as accidental insertion of the tube into the lung instead of the gut can have serious consequences.

The current method for determining correct placement – pH testing of a stomach aspirate, with X-ray confirmation if the results are ambiguous – is prone to misinterpretation, and so we were approached by the Department of Health to look at how this could be avoided. We identified the Ingenza solution as an easy-to-implement and low cost option, providing a highly specific and sensitive test with the potential to reduce the number of expensive chest X-rays.”

Ingenza’s simple diagnostic assay is based on detecting the activity of human gastric lipase (HGL), a stomach-specific biomarker. By impregnating a modified pH paper with a chemical ester substrate, this test has the potential to be more accurate than currently available alternatives. Prof Hanna continued: “The real strength of this approach is that it does not change the current pathway; it simply replaces one test strip with another. We performed a small pilot study on 38 consecutive patients requiring an NG tube, and the Ingenza assay accurately confirmed placement in every case. We are now developing the test further – with funding from Innovate UK – to provide a simple ‘yes/no’ result, and will conduct a larger study to look at human factors and the cost-effectiveness of the test on a larger scale.”

About Ingenza

Ingenza is a worldwide leader in the application of industrial biotechnology and synthetic biology, providing efficient scalable bioprocesses to manufacture chemicals, biologics, pharmaceuticals and biofuels, from sustainable sources. Its scientific and commercial activities are led by a management team with over 25 years’ experience in applied bioscience and the development and commercialisation of bio-based products. In addition to engaging in strategic partnerships to tailor its bioprocess services for clients, the company also licenses its proprietary bioprocess technologies.

About NIHR

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website (www.nihr.ac.uk).

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