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Lumora – bioluminescent assays, courtesy of the firefly

Lumora - bioluminescent assays, courtesy of the firefly. Herky/Wikimedia Commons

Molecular diagnostics company Lumora provides portable testing devices that allow users to simply and quickly check rapidly for the presence of harmful organisms, such as the bacteria that cause food poisoning. It makes use of the properties of the enzyme luciferase – which catalyses the reaction that produces the bioluminescent glow of the firefly.

The technology at the heart of the device has been licensed to global innovation company 3M for use in a food pathogen detection system. It also has multiple applications in clinical and environmental testing, such as testing patients for viruses like HIV, or determining the level of genetically modified material in agricultural products.

Data breakout

2013 Year Lumora partnered with FIND to develop a diagnostic test for malaria at low blood levels
$49.2Bn Value of the global in vitro diagnostics market in 2012
2012 Year Murray won the BBSRC Commercial Innovator of the Year award from BBSRC for his work with Lumora

Lumora Ltd. is a spin-out company of the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. It was set up in 2003 by Professor Jim Murray and Dr Laurence Tisi who subsequently became, and remains, the CEO of Lumora.

The development of a heat-stable form of luciferase later proved to be critical in the development of a system known as ‘bioluminescent assay in real time’ (BART). Initially, the work was begun by Murray in the laboratories of the University Of Cambridge Institute Of Biotechnology with the assistance of a post-doctoral researcher. In 2005 the company received support from BBSRC to further develop their assay technology. The project was led subsequently by Tisi, who was funded by a three-year grant from BBSRC.

"BBSRC was supporting Laurence Tisi when we initially thought about detecting specific DNA sequences with luciferase," says Murray. "If he hadn’t been able to work on the project and had time to explore new ideas, Lumora would never have come about."

Read the full impact evidence report:

Lumora – bioluminescent assays, courtesy of the firefly (PDF 235KB)

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