A Cypriot scientist is among the finalists of this year`s European Inventor Awards in the category of research.
British Cypriot Professor Christofer Toumazou is the inventor of a tiny fast DNA testing tool on a USB stick.
The European Inventor Awards bring together some of the world`s brightest innovators, as well as leading figures from business, politics, media and the sciences.
The next European Inventor Award ceremony – the ninth – will take place on June 17 in Berlin, Germany.
The awards will be presented to winners in the following categories: Industry, Non-European Countries, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), Research, Popular Prize and Lifetime Achievement.
Christofer Toumazou is competing against Thomas Tuschl (Germany) for gene-silencing technique to treat diseases and Philippe Cinquin, Serge Cosnier, Chantal Gondran, Fabien Giroud (France) for implantable biofuel cell that runs on glucose.
According to the organisers, unraveling the complexities of the human genome was once an endeavour reserved for the scientific elite, but Toumazou’s invention – a USB stick that decodes a patient’s DNA within minutes – puts that unique ability at people’s fingertips.
His invention employs small silicon microchips that can identify genetic mutations that determine a person’s predispositions to certain hereditary diseases. These portable, low-power devices can analyse data on the spot rather than in a lab environment. As such, they represent a great stride in medicine as emphasis shifts from treating illnesses to preventing and diagnosing them in a targeted manner.
The market potential for DNA sequencing is immense. By 2016, it is expected to be worth US $6.6 billion and grow by 17.5 per cednt annually.
Professor Toumazou is of Greek-Cypriot decent – his parents lived in Yialousa in the north until the late 1950s, and moved to the UK shortly before he was born. He and his family have maintained strong links with the island, and he has been a mentor to Cypriot science students in the past.
By the time he was 33 he was Imperial College London’s youngest professor. He is an electrical engineer who has turned to medical technology.
Following the announcement of this year`s finalists for the European Inventor Award 2014 a competition to the public was opened to vote for your favourite individual or team to win the Popular Prize under http://www.epo.org/learning-events/european-inventor/popular-prize.html.