In 2005, Dr Rob Powell and Dr Jim Wicks, two experts in PCR and diagnostics at the School of Medicine, Southampton University, had the idea of starting up a diagnostics company, Primer Design. The University declined to invest, so Prof. Tom Brown came on board as the only investor (investing £50k), as well as providing guidance and expertise in nucleic acid chemistry. Over the next ten years, Rob and Jim built the company up, developing the innovative and hugely successful genesig® platform, with qPCR kits for swine flu, Ebola and Zika virus; and establishing a worldwide reputation (with customers in over 100 countries).
Today, Novacyt, an international specialist in cancer and infectious disease diagnostics, has announced the acquisition of Primer Design, for a purchase price of £12m subject to the achievement of sales targets over the next three years.
Prof. Tom Brown has been named as one of the finalists in the 2016 BBSRC Innovator of the Year competition. The winner will be announced at the Fostering Innovation event in London on 18th May.
In a paper published in Nature Chemistry today, Andrew Turberfield’s group (Oxford Physics) shows that synthetic machinery built from DNA can be used to execute a molecular program that produces peptides or olefin oligomers with a defined sequence (in collaboration with Ben Davis (Oxford Chemistry), Rachel O’Reilly (Warwick) and Tom Brown).