ProAxsis Limited supported by Innovate UK to accelerate work on inflammatory biomarkers associated with COVID-19


ProAxsis (, the Belfast-based respiratory diagnostics company, today announces that it has been awarded a high impact Innovate UK grant as part of the recent “UKRI Ideas to Address COVID-19” competition. The company will immediately initiate the £390,000 project, which will be co-funded by Innovate UK, to develop novel protease biomarkers to identify high-risk patients.

Speaking about the plans, Dr David Ribeiro, CEO of ProAxsis, said:

“Recognition of this kind from Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, is an enormous testament to the cutting-edge research being conducted by the ProAxsis team of scientists at its purpose-built laboratory in Belfast. This project is targeted at utilising the company’s unprecedented expertise in active protease biomarkers to enable clinicians to identify which patients are at highest risk of experiencing significant symptoms when they become infected with COVID-19, as well as creating novel diagnostic tools for measuring the effectiveness of potential therapies. This award will drive significant expansion of the company’s R&D activities and builds on our existing work on inflammatory biomarkers associated with COVID-19.”

Dr Ribeiro added:

“The awarding of this grant, alongside the strong support of our investors, Netscientific plc, has enabled the company to immediately expand its team in Belfast with the recruitment of additional R&D scientists. As a first step, we welcome Ciaran McGranaghan, who recently graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Biological Sciences from Queen’s University Belfast.”

Gavin Robinson, MP for Belfast East, said: “Last week we received positive news that the UK would be rolling out a vaccine this side of Christmas. I’m delighted that this week, ProAxsis based in East Belfast have been successful in their application for an Innovate UK grant. A huge congratulations to the dedicated team for this notable achievement.”

Any enquiries concerning ProAxsis’ work on COVID-19 can be directed to

About ProAxsis

ProAxsis Limited is a commercial-stage diagnostics company, based in Northern Ireland, and with a rapidly growing global client list of pharmaceutical companies and academic laboratories. The company has registered a CE Mark for activity-based immunoassays targeting Neutrophil Elastase (NE) and Proteinase 3, as biomarkers of lung infection and inflammation in chronic respiratory diseases such as COPD, cystic fibrosis and bronchiectasis.

This technology has been translated into a point-of-care test (NEATstik®), to enable ongoing monitoring of active NE levels. Recently published data has shown that measuring active NE levels using NEATstik® enables identification of patients with airway bacterial infection and those patients at highest risk of suffering pulmonary exacerbations over the subsequent 12 months.

In addition to proteases, the company also has significant expertise in the measurement of other inflammatory biomarkers, including IL-6, IL-8 and TNF-alpha. Grant-funded R&D funded projects for a variety of targets remain a key area of focus.

Aside from the provision of assays, ProAxsis can offer sample analysis at its purpose-built laboratory facility in Belfast and is currently supporting a number of pharmaceutical company-sponsored Phase I, II and III clinical trials.

About Innovate UK

Innovate UK drives productivity and economic growth by supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new areas. We connect businesses to the partners, customers and investors that can help them turn ideas into commercially successful products and services and business growth.

We fund business and research collaborations to accelerate innovation and drive business investment into R&D. Our support is available to businesses across all economic sectors, value chains and UK regions.

Innovate UK is part of UK Research and Innovation. For more information, please visit

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