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Point-of-care iron stores test awarded staggering €7 million


The Ferrtest Project, which studies a point of care test to detect iron deficiency, has been awarded an impressive €7 million in the latest tranche of the Government’s Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund (DTIF).

Though more prevalent in developing countries, iron deficiency remains a significant problem in the developed world particularly in blood donors, women and children, and during pregnancy. In many people iron depletion remains undetected until a clinical problem arises. More than half of all cases of anaemia in women can be attributed to iron deficiency, as can 42% of cases in children under the age of five.

The best way to detect iron deficiency at an early stage before it causes anaemia and illness is to measure a person’s blood Ferritin level - this protein stores iron in the body and its levels become low well before clinical iron deficiency and anaemia develop, thus giving an early warning.

Ferrtest, in which Trinity College Dublin’s, Department of Clinical Medicine are partners, is the world’s first professional-use,  high-sensitivity, rapid point-of-care blood test to quantitatively measure minute amounts of Ferritin. Previously, ferritin could only be measured in a hospital laboratory. The potential for simple testing at the point-of-care will facilitate early decision making and potential administration of iron supplements.

Dr. Gerard Boran and his team in Clinical Medicine will provide stewardship for the TCD clinical studies, working closely with lead partner Radisens Diagnostics Ltd.  The Cork-based Radisens-led consortium also include industrial partners Polypico Technologies Ltd. (based in Galway) and Irish Manufacturing Research (based in Mullingar).

About DTIF

The DTIF is a €500 million Project Ireland 2040 fund launched under the National Development Plan in 2018 with €65M committed to 16 consortia in the 2019 announcement of funding. The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation is managing the DTIF with administrative support from Enterprise Ireland. The purpose of the Fund is to drive collaboration between Ireland’s world-class research base and industry as well as facilitating enterprises to compete directly for funding in support of the development and adoption of these technologies.

About Dr. Gerard Boran

Dr. Gerard Boran is Consultant Chemical Pathologist at Tallaght University Hospital’s Clinical Chemistry Service and Clinical Associate Professor in the Department of Clinical Medicine (Tallaght Campus) at TCD. He is also Course Director of the internationally accredited TCD Masters in Clinical Chemistry and Lead Clinician for the Metabolic Medicine Service at the Tallaght University Hospital.

He previously served as Dean of the Faculty of Pathology at the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and as National Clinical Lead for the Irish National Clinical Programme in Pathology when he inaugurated the National Laboratory Handbook and wrote several of the Laboratory Medicine National Guidelines including for near-patient testing. He has been PI of 5 EU R&D projects in the domains of laboratory medicine, point-of-care testing, and diabetes (OPENLABS, QLAB+, EUDIP, EUCID, EUBIROD). He is an Associate Editor of the Irish Journal of Medical Science with over 70 publications.