Digital Health Technology Case Study: BioSystems Technology

Exeter start-up creates ethical alternative for disease and drug testing

Ethical alternatives to animal testing is being driven by technology, with Exeter firm BioSystems Technology leading the way in providing a more reliable and humane technique.

Global testing on animals is estimated to be as high as 115 million globally every year. Yet tighter regulations and rising costs have increased the pressure on the industry to find a more humane alternative. Dr Olivia Champion, CEO of BioSystems Technology, has developed research-grade larvae, which can act as a substitute for testing diseases, poisons and new drugs.

Getting the right support for growth

A spin out of University of Exeter, BioSystems Technology was supported by SETsquared, a partnership between the universities of Bath, Bristol, Exeter, Southampton and Surrey that supports high-tech start-ups.

The ground-breaking nature of BioSystems Technology and work done by Dr Champion was acknowledged in March when she was named one of the ‘top 50 entrepreneurs’ at an event in the House of Commons. Dr Champion was one of eight entrepreneurs based in Exeter who honoured business for innovation, growth and accessing global markets by SETsquared.

Joe Pearce, Head of Business Support at SETsquared’s centre in Exeter, said: “This is a great example of the pioneering thinking coming out of the university environment that incubators like SETsquared has supported to become a reality.

“Exeter is a hub of technology and health companies and it is exciting to see new approaches to age-old concerns be challenged with technology. BioSystems Technology has presented a new way of undertaking testing that enhances the reliability and reputation of the digital health technology sector.”

Technological advancement to enhance safety testing

BioSystems Technology’s product TruLarv is a specially-bred moth larvae, which could reduce the use of mammals by as high as 90%. Dr Champion explains that although larvae’s potential as an alternative was known, there were obstacles in availability and quality.

“TruLarv is standardised, decontaminated larvae that is a cost-effective substitute for testing diseases and new drugs. This method produces robust data and is straightforward and quicker than using mammals.

“Based in Exeter we are surrounded by a wealth of support that has enabled us to quickly launch our business and facilitate access to international markets, selling to the UK, as well as the EU and US,” added Dr Champion.

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