Diagnostic device could help fight antimicrobial resistance by determining whether or not an infection is caused by bacteria

The European commission has awarded its €1 million (£863,000) Horizon Prize for better use of antibiotics to a company which developed a finger prick test that can tell in minutes whether an infection is caused by bacteria or a virus.

The diagnostic tool will help tackle antimicrobial resistance, the commission said, by providing a way to ensure antibiotics are not used in cases where the infection is caused by a virus.

‘Overuse and misuse of antibiotics is a major challenge to public health,’ said Europe’s science commissioner Carlos Moedas, who awarded the prize at a ceremony in Belgium. ‘We are helping to bring this device to patients as quickly as possible, so that antibiotics are only used for bacterial infections and not for viral infections where they are ineffective or unnecessary.’

The company who developed the winning technology, Minicare HNL, is a collaboration between the Swedish diagnostics firm P&M Venge AB and Philips Electronics in the Netherlands. They say the test will be available for clinical use by 2018.